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Popularity Power

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Manager: It's a secret, so keep it under your head, but the most popular robot always wins.
Bender: You mean I'm not a great fighter? I just won 'cause I'm popular?
Manager: Bingo!

Have you ever gotten into an argument where you have to defend your beloved Local Sports Team's honor and superiority against the "merits" of that honorless and inept Opposing Sports Team? Time consuming and pointless debates ensue (they really should just accept that that Local Sports Team is better and move on with their lives). If things get really bad, you can always wait for both teams to play against each other to settle the issue.

There's just one problem. Your team is in Major League Rugby, and theirs is a peewee soccer team. And they win.

This isn't the Ragtag Bunch of Misfits beating an Evil Empire, they don't have The Ace leading them to a last second win by exploiting a Weaksauce Weakness or using a Drama-Preserving Handicap, they're normal and otherwise mundane, or even notably horrible. They are however far more popular and sell merchandise far better than your team. And somehow, much like The Power of Friendship, their Popularity Power gives them that added boost to take on teams far, far, far above their league that should logically crush them like so many naive hopes and dreams under tax returns.

Comic Books tend to fall to this a lot, much like an Ensemble Dark Horse but canonized in media. The super hero in question is usually the kind that stars in Wolverine Publicity or is a Badass Normal in a team of supers. Authors then give them Power Creep, Power Seep until they can take on anyone and win without flinching, or at least won't lose, to someone who should easily beat them. The means to this are usually liberal applications of Idiot Ball or Forgot About His Powers to the opponent, a few Contrived Coincidences to help the hero (a fire extinguisher near a fire villain), or Joker Immunity to make a popular villain's outright defeat impossible.

Note: when a character in their own title makes short work of a more popular or widely-known guest star, that is not a subversion of this trope. I'm looking at you, example section.

Compare Pandering to the Base, Wolverine Publicity, Spotlight-Stealing Squad, Power Creep, Power Seep, Running the Asylum. Related to Joker Immunity and Contractual Immortality since some characters will never get caught/Killed Off for Real because of their popularity.

Contrast The Worf Effect. See also Story-Breaker Team-Up. For the out-of-universe version, where a work has power because it's popular, see Quality by Popular Vote.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Viewtiful Joe anime adaption did with this Alastor. In the game he's not seen as an especially tough fight, but he's an Ensemble Dark Horse in the anime which led to him being presented as the strongest villain in the first season besides the Big Bad. This trope likely also played in reverse with Fire-Leo, who in the game is unanimously regarded as the toughest fight, which meant fans complaints about how hard he was made the anime turn him into an Adaptational Wimp.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Goku's father, Bardock, was little more than an Elite Mook in his original special—he was curbstomped easily by Dodoria, and barely qualified as a gnat to Frieza, with a stated power level (10,000) that would make him a Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond on a good day in the setting. However, he became extremely popular, which is why in the spinoff manga, Episode of Bardock, he manages to transform into a Super Saiyan. Taken to new heights in Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2, where stalling in a certain mission long enough leads to him reaching Super Saiyan 3.
    • Broly was by no means weak in his original showing, but in supplementary materials, his level of strength is escalated to absurd degrees. In his initial outing, he was strong enough to beat up the Cell Games-era cast, but fell to a Combined Energy Attack, and in his second appearance, Goten, Goku, and a rusty Gohan were able to win a Beam-O-War and blast him into the sun. Now compare that to his showings in things like the Budokai Tenkaichi games, where he's clocked as on-par with the GT cast at their strongest, or the Raging Blast games, where he has transformations he never attained in canon, or Xenoverse, which rates him as stronger than Beerus. The film Dragon Ball Super: Broly upgrades him to the point that he can overpower a Super-era Goku and Vegeta and give Gogeta a decent scrap.
    • In-Universe. In Dragon Ball Z, the resident Fake Ultimate Hero Mr. Satan actually helped in saving the world, and possibly the entire universe. How? He actually requested the residents of Earth to share their energy with him (actually Goku), and they readily agree, as Mr Satan is famed for saving the world from Cell (again, actually Gohan) and hence they share their energy with 'him', allowing Goku to FINALLY defeat Kid Buu. The most egregious part is that when Goku himself requested the denizens of Earth to share energy, they didn't cooperate, as they all have been revived recently, having been killed by Fat Buu and later Super Buu, and hence skeptical. Good thing Goku brought Mr. Satan along.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Batman has become a walking Deus ex Machina in comic books and "versus debates" thanks to the words "with prep time". Given enough prep time, he is speculated to be able to defeat: Superman, Galactus, Darkseid, Death, Taxes, Tofu, and Jelly Beans. The sheer amount of times he's faced Superman and lived would qualify him here even if nothing else would.
    • The 'Batman smacks down Superman' issue was subverted in The New Frontier; initially, it appears that Batman handed Superman his cape after Superman attempted to arrest Batman, who was refusing to register or resign as a superhero. It's eventually revealed that the two men staged it as a protest against McCarthyism and the witch-hunts of the 1950s. At Superman's urging, no less.
    • More concretely, he made contingency plans in one arc to take each member of the Justice League down should they go crazy. Of course, they fall into the wrong hands, and work remarkably well on all the heroes.
      • Even those plans are sometimes criticized by readers. The plan against Flash, for example, relies on him vibrating through a special bullet, instead of just, y'know, moving out of the way.
    • In several stories, it's later expanded to note that every single one of the Justice League members have at least some vague plan to take out their team-members in case any one of them goes rogue. They vary in effectiveness, though. Hal Jordan's contingency plan shows one of his own moments of Popularity Power - his plan to defeat Batman was to create a jetpack, strap it to him, and shoot him as far away as possible to be sure. Despite certain obvious flaws, his plan worked.
    • In one alternate universe, after Jason Todd was killed Batman went ...a little more nuts than normal...and killed every single villain on Earth, resulting in a utopia. No one thought this was unlikely.
    • Fortunately Alan Moore seems to be immune to Popularity Power. During Moore's run on Swamp Thing Batman takes on the much more powerful title character with plenty of prep time after making careful preparations, including putting wood cutting buzz-saws on the Batmobile and bringing a herbicide thrower. Swamp Thing wipes the floor with him.
      • There are a few crossovers where Batman isn't shown as an all-around invincible badass. In one crossover between Spider-Man and Batman, they got into a brief scuffle and Peter grabbed Bats, tossed him half-way across the building. The priceless look on Bruce's face said it all as he was being thrown so easily.
    • And sometimes, even "with prep time" is unnecessary. Like putting down Cheetah, who is a recurrent Wonder Woman villain, at times able to take a punch from Superman (who, for the uninitiated, has Super-Strength and Super-Speed, which Batman lacks), with a single punch, running with three adults on his back, and sucking enough bullets to sink a frigate. And apparently, doesn't need to sleep.
    • One issue of Batman Confidential had him fighting several members of the proto-Justice League. He took down Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Aquaman. This was their first meeting, and he didn't know what any of their abilities were when the fight started. It helped that neither did the writer. Let's see... throwing a smoke bomb in front of The Flash is yet another example of writers forgetting that 1. He has Super-Reflexes and even so wouldn't immediately crash into a wall if blinded 2. If you're in a small room with The Flash, there is no time to throw something before he reaches you. There's not time for a human to do anything before he reaches you. Wonder Woman cannot be taken out by kicking her in the stomach with human strength. At a best case scenario it's ineffective. Worse case, you break your foot. The same goes for Martian Manhunter. Batman's ability to manhandle Aquaman or utterly incapacitate Green Lantern with a batrope is also just slightly dubious (Aquaman has Wonder Woman levels of Super-Strength and Green Lantern can make literally anything he can think of with his ring).
      • The Wonder Woman scenario is even worse. Batman at first broke his knuckles punching her, which she did not even feel. Then he kicks her in the stomach, reasoning "she has to breathe", an attack which has much less chance of putting down a normal human, let alone a superhuman, but she is down and out. And then he is fighting the rest of her friends with few broken fingers. God...
    • Frank Miller's Batman/Spawn crossover actually has their fight be even, to a degree. Batman beats down Spawn, but when Spawn turns the tables the rest of the fight is conveniently off panel.
    • Wonder Woman beat down Batman in Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia. A criminal Batman was after sought sanctuary in Wonder Woman's headquarters, and Batman demanded she turn her over. Wondy said no. With her foot. In fact, Wonder Woman is a good case of Surprisingly Realistic Outcome, as his track record against her has been slightly against him. She's a Flying Brick with no obvious weaknesses who often sees through his ruses.
    • Though in a Justice League issue, Batman fights a demonically possessed and thus enhanced Wonder Woman. Instead of getting stomped into the pavement, he gives her a fight, scoring some good hits, even drawing blood and temporarily restraining her at a point with nothing but his bare hands. Given their massive strength and durability difference this should be impossible
    • One can observe the evolution of Batman's Popularity Power in two Robin-centric stories set decades from each other by publication date. In the 80s, Batman hadn't quite achieved total "BatGod" status yet and during A Death in the Family, he was reeling back from the death of Jason Todd and in a moment of anger, punches Superman as hard as he could... only for him to seriously hurt himself and the only reason he didn't break every bone in his hand was because Superman rolled with the punch. In the 2010s, The Hunt for Robin saw Batman reeling from Damian Wayne's death and during a mission to retrieve his body, Shazam, another Flying Brick, screwed it up for Batman. This time, Batman angrily punched Shazam multiple times without pulling any punches and isn't shown to be in any visible pain or suffering from any fractured bones in his hands. Not only that, but afterwards, Shazam is the one who rubs his face like he felt those blows.
    • In Batman vs. Bigby! A Wolf in Gotham, this comes into play. Popularity Power is actually an in-universe thing that can really enhance a Fable and make them harder to kill but ironically, Bigby isn't the beneficiary this time, as out-of-universe, Batman is a much more recognizable and popular character than him. Despite possessing super strength, super agility, super healing, aerokinesis, and a host of feats that should allow Bigby to make short work of Batman, Batman dominates and beats him in their first fight, knocking him out with gas. The second time around, Batman goes up against him in wolf form and knocks him out with an explosion in the specialized armor he was wearing. While it was implied Bigby was going easy on Batman, as shown by how he easily tore apart the Batcave, he really didn't have any reason to, as Bruce was a total stranger to him, and if anything, Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland showed that Bigby really has no qualms about inflicting savage defeats on strangers and enforcing his will on them. And even taking into consideration how Batman has defeated other werewolf/wolf-man opponents one-on-one in his storied career, Bigby has displayed the ability to fight and mow down entire hordes of more ordinary werewolves by the hundreds.
    • A notable aversion came in one of the DC/Marvel crossovers, when the JLA went up against the X-Men. Batman, the most popularity-powered character of them all, sprang a surprise attack on Cyclops who, while he has plenty of fans, also attracts more hate than probably any other X-Man (with the possible exception of Gambit). Guess which one got taken down.
    • Batman's other villains Bane and Deathstroke have benefited from this as well, like the time Bane onepunched the aforementioned Cheetah without being on Venom.
    • Dark Nights: Death Metal features a tie-in where Owlman commits a Heroic Sacrifice (well, minus the "heroic" part) to take out a number of evil alternate Batmen. When one of them is horribly confused as to why he's doing this, Owlman states simply that he's always been Batman's Evil Counterpart (having debuted in the sixties and kept up a steady presence since), and he'll be back before long. Conversely, the characters he's fighting are lame throwaway concepts in an event flooded with interchangeable evil Batmen, and when the dust clears, nobody is going to want to bring back Bat-Baby and the Rainbow Batman Corps.
  • Captain America: Despite allegedly being barely superhuman,note  some of Captain America's feats have gone seemingly far beyond what he "should" be able to do. Any average human superhero or villain who goes up against him is sure to lose. Even superpowered denizens like Spider-Man and Wolverine fold before the Cap. And if that weren't enough, Captain America has actually gone rounds against Namor, Hulk, and the other Marvel Universe super heavyweights and STILL come out on top (or at the very least, fought these beings to a draw). Why? Because he's popular. Because he wears the red, white, and blue. And to top it all off, Marvel loves him so much that they'll almost never have the guy lose, just like DC is almost never going to have Batman lose.
    • Namor has got the worst from it, mostly due to the lack of respect he has from more recent writers. Cap once knocked him out with a single shield throw (though to be fair Namor was not as powerful then), and then another time managed to defeat him after an extended fight through a shield bash. And another time, Cap defeated a clone of Namor who was created by Mr. Sinister, who had defeated the original Human Torch, in 3 pages. Namor on another occasion has struggled to wrestle Cap's shield from his hands, which is totally absurd considering the difference between their strength levels.
    • This is made especially ridiculous in the animated movie, Ultimate Avengers, which has the team fight The Hulk in the finale and has Cap last better than any others who engage him in a direct fight. Notably, The Hulk takes down Thor (an ACTUAL GOD) in two blows. Cap gets thrown all over the place and manages to endure around/over FOUR. Sure, he's bleeding and disoriented afterwards, but logically he shouldn't even be conscious.
    • During the Reigning storyline, Rune King Thor, which is THOR empowered with BOTH the Odinforce (his father Odin's power) and power gained from magical Asgardian Runes, curbstomps pretty much everyone in his path, even defeating both Thing and Hulk TOGETHER off-panel, but Cap lays quite the beatdown on him. Consistency, what's that?
    • Although there are a few well-known instances of Captain America subverting this trope. There are plenty of battles where he shows up, makes an inspirational speech about determination over power, then gets his ass handed to him (most famously against Korvac, Thanos, and the Masters of Evil).
      • Though in the case of Korvac, Cap is shown to be visibly hurting him, making him cry out in. The fact that Cap's putting the hurt on a cosmic entity itself would be cool, yet stupid, but on top of that, before and after the hurting Cap put on Korvac, he was withstanding blows from seriously pissed, legit class 100s like Thor, Iron Man and Wonder Man, which makes it more absurd, because anyone who can be hurt by Cap should literally explode from full force punches from those within Thor's strength class.
    • It should be noted that Cap's shield is often described as playing merry havoc with the laws of physics. For example, it's not just indestructible (it can shrug off a direct hit from everything short of Thor with the power of Odin), but it also arrests most (if not all) of the momentum directed at it, too. One imagines that works in reverse when used as a weapon. But still, all it should take is one shot from most people listed here and Cap is down for the count. To put in perspective just how weird Cap's shield is, The Avengers were, at one point, defeated by Molecule Man, an extremely powerful individual who can manipulate matter at the molecular level. Molecule Man messes around with the hero's weapons, including Mjölnir, but it's Cap's shield that freaks him out the most, not the ancient Asgardian magical weapon of storms. Why? It's never explained...
      • In a Fantastic Four story, Cap's shield takes Gladiator at bay for minutes. Heat vision ("The heart of a star") and lighting-fast, moon-blasting punches don't even ruin the painting of the shield. Maybe it's not even Captain America Popularity Power in action - the Star and Stripes logo must be a reality breaker.
      • It must be also noted that how much force Cap's shield can protect him also is very much Depending on the Writer. In one story, Daredevil punching on the shield is forcing Cap back, while in another story it can take hits from Iron Man no problem. Cyclops blasts him a mile away in one story, while in another story the shield protects him from a blast from Galactus herald Airwalker, which KOs both Iron Man and Thor who were standing right next to him. On another occasion, Cap protects himself from a blast using his shield which knocks out Wolverine and Carol Danvers, both bonafide superhumans, while in another story landing shield first from a building hurts him. In one story, he is sent rocketing from a punch from Namor UNDERWATER (where he is at his strongest) but is unharmed and in another story, landing on water from a great height shield first knocks him out. In one story She-Hulk (someone who is several times stronger than Cap) has trouble blocking a Mjölnir throw with the shield and an ordinary human dies protecting Cap from a blow from Thunder Ball in another story, but Cap has no problem blocking attacks from characters far stronger and powerful than Thor or Thunderball. Even when he has shields that do not have absorbing capabilities, he has no problem. He once, using a pure adamantium shield, blocked a steel beam swung by Mister Hyde, a class 50 Thor villain with no problem, which by all means should have shattered every bone in Cap's arm. Even worse, in another story, he is shown blocking hits from the Destroyer Armor with a (his original) steel shield, and the armor punching Thor in the same comic was shown to be shaking the entire city.
    • During the 90s, Cap had an encounter with a few of the X-Men in a scuffle which saw him getting frozen from the waist down by Iceman. The move did not stop Captain America on his tracks. He then somersaulted across the air and knocked Iceman out while his entire lower body was frozen, meaning that he shouldn't even have the kind of momentum to pull off such a move. Not only that, he effortlessly beat the crap out of Beast. To make things clear, Hank McCoy is no Hulk or Thor, but he's still a highly dangerous mutant who possesses strength, speed, and agility far better than the best of Olympic athletes AND he can lift well over thirty tons. That didn't stop the Cap from making short work of him. It got worse in the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline when Cap went up against Gambit. During the fight, Gambit used his kinetic powers to charge up Cap's suit and levelled him with an explosion that should have reduced any human or peak human fighter to a charred skeleton. Immediately after the explosion, Cap emerged from the blast with no injuries and proceeded to punch Gambit out like nothing happened to him.
    • Cap's powers themselves are sometimes overblown, as his accelerated healing is shown to have overcome a virus which those with bonafide healing factors couldn't.
    • Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 parodies it best:
      "I wear the flag. That means I don't lose."
    • Or like a fan put it "Cap is the sign of human arrogance. The humans wants to believe that this is their peak".
    • Or like another fan put it, "a sign of patriotic arrogance".
    • Civil War at least is fair about it. Iron Man always wipes the floor with Cap in their various duels, causing him to need rescue by more powerful allies, unless Cap cheats by shorting out his armor in which case Iron Man is basically helpless to do anything but lie there and eat shield, not really making Cap look all that powerful.
      • Even there, it is questionable, since it was the Extremis armor, which allowed Iron Man to be unharmed from deep-space pressures, take hits from pissed off Thor who was not holding back, and while low on power, take blows from Spider-Man (who himself is far stronger than Cap) when Spidey was enhanced to twice his normal levels and even be unharmed from a point-blank nuclear explosion while low on power. So Cap's shield strikes > ground zero nuke explosion?
    • Civil War is also one of the times that Captain America defeated Spider-Man. This time Spidey offers a meager justification for it: "There is no 'next move' to read, for him, it's all one long move from start to finish, he has it all planned out in advance while you're still trying to react to his last blow.", which of course ignores quite a number of things about Spidey and Marvel in general but there you have it.
      • Actually Spider-Man was not beaten, but even then, Cap was dominating, and hurting Spider-Man with his punches, and to make it worse, Spider-Man was doubly enhanced from his normal stats, and wearing an armor which made him bulletproof and allowed him to take hits from Titanium Man, the Iron Man foe. And despite being so enhanced Spidey still failed to defeat Cap despite landing a few hits, not even knocking him back.
    • Captain America has also one-punched Thunderball, another class 50 Thor villain, who has tangled with heavyweights other than Thor like Hulk, Hercules and Iron Man. To make it even absurd, in the same book, just few pages ago, he was fighting evenly with the class 60 Giant-Woman.
    • Deadpool has been shown as possibly being Cap's superior. In their first meeting, Deadpool takes out the (mind-controlled) Captain with a solid hit to the junk. In a recent team-up, an enraged Deadpool got into a heated battle with Steve Rogers, now Super Soldier. In that battle, Deadpool managed to put a really good hurting on the former Captain America. Just when it seemed that Deadpool was finally overpowering Rogers, he was shot in the back with several tranquilizer darts to end the battle and even then Deadpool was the one still standing while Cap was the one on his knees who looked worse for wear. Considering how Captain America usually shows up other superheroes like Wolverine and Spider-Man in their own comic books, it's quite amazing that Deadpool managed to come off looking really strong against Captain America with the implication that he might have won their interrupted battle if he were to continue going all-out.
  • Deadpool: Deadpool once realized that this was the reason that he can never die, so in order to die he decided to go out and kill all of his fans. He does the same in Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe. He also gives an interesting speech to Wolverine about his healing factor. He states that it's incredibly fitting: the popular character has a power that makes him immune to death. Deadpool berates Wolverine because according to him, Logan doesn't live because of his skills, but because the fans love him. This may come off as hypocritical, because in that alternate universe, Deadpool managed to kill people that he should logically never be able to kill (like The Avengers, Spider-Man, Galactus, etc...). Why? Because he's just as popular as Wolverine.
    Deadpool: Your tendency to come back from the brink of death has nothing to do with your healing factor. Your mutant power isn't regeneration. It's popularity.
  • Deathstroke: Deathstroke is an incredibly popular villain. So of course, writers have to amp up his badassery from reasonable to absurd. The man has enhanced reflexes, speed, strength and intelligence, but only several times above peak human as opposed to, oh, Kryptonian level. In Identity Crisis (2004) #3, he single-handedly took out an entire Justice League roster. He stops Black Canary from using her Canary Cry via a bag over her head. (Her scream can rip through steel). He beats The Atom senseless with the light from an ordinary laser pointer because 'the Atom has no mass when he shrinks'. (This directly contradicted how the Atom's power has worked since his very first appearance in comics.) Green Lantern Kyle Rayner can't use his ring because Deathstroke grabs his hand, and uses his own willpower to overpower Kyle's. (Not only do GL rings not work that way, at that time Kyle's ring had a failsafe put in to refuse commands from anyone not having Kyle's brainwave pattern... and that's before you factor in the pure unleaded stupidity of Kyle actually being caught within arms' reach of Deathstroke at all, seeing as how he can fly and Deathstroke can't.) Oh, but at least in those cases, he put a minimal degree of effort in. Deathstroke detonates a series of explosives and immediately sticks out his katana; Wally West runs through the only safe path and impales himself. (Wally West can move at the speed of light — on a slow day. To be able to move too fast for Wally to be able to react in time, Deathstroke's sword would have needed a built-in hyperdrive.) He was eventually defeated by Green Arrow poking his bad eye with an arrow in frustration.
  • Fables: This is one speculated source of the eponymous Fables' powers. The more popular the story about a Fable is, the more powerful they are. For example, Snow White recovered from a sniper's bullet to the skull—her sister Rose Red might not have survived since most people have forgotten her part of the fairytale— Frau Totenkinder is one of the most powerful Fables in existence because she is every anonymous witch in folklore, and Goldilocks raises this to a level bordering on Blessed with Suck when she discovers she can't heal any faster than the fish are eating her.
    • Jack Horner, who is every Jack in fairy tales (except Jack Sprat), exploited this by going to Hollywood and making a trilogy of movies about him. He's now effectively immortal, but not invincible.
    • The series has actually avoided directly answering the question on whether Popularity Power is actually in effect. Frau Totenkinder for her part actually expresses doubt on whether it is or not.
  • Fantastic Four: Heroes aren't the only ones with Popularity Power. Doctor Doom has become a villainous equivalent of Batman who can defeat anyone given enough "prep time" (admittedly a FAR more stable claim than Batman, but still quite ridiculous). Despite being the villain of the story, the good doctor has gained an immense following of fans who believe he's capable of defeating anyone and anything, including the most powerful beings in the comic books multiverse. Given enough time to study opponents, it is said that Doom could defeat Thanos, Galactus, Magneto, Hulk, Thor, Darkseid, Superman, Batman, Silver Surfer, Jesus, and even the almighty Rubik's Cube. It really is an almost endless list. Unlike many examples there is mildly more justification for this in the sense that Doom is, canonically, one the worlds best scientists and one of the worlds' best sorcerers, so using various unconventional combinations of magic and technology (as well as an entire nations worth of resources) makes the idea that Doom can properly prepare for most foes a bit more feasible than with, say, Batman. Even so, there exist really ridiculous examples of Doom being a God-Mode Sue. During an arc where he teamed up with Dr. Voodoo and they battled their way across hordes of demons, Dr. Voodoo got taken down by Ghost Rider but before Ghost Rider could finish Voodoo, Doom came in and took Ghost Rider out with one punch. This is a highly dubious feat considering Ghost Rider has been shown to be able to fight toe to toe with Dr. Strange before, take some of his best attacks, and even defeat the Sorcerer Supreme after a brutal mystical fight. And of course, Doom's powers are only second best compared to Strange. Apparently, the message that the writers want to drive home is that one punch from Doom is greater than the sum of two Sorcerer Supremes put together.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Hulk has been accused of this for years, but it became most apparent in World War Hulk where he easily defeats people he has no business defeating, like Doctor Strange. Though whether it is due strictly to popularity and the Idiot Ball or whether the Hulk actually should be able to defeat such characters is often debated.
  • The Punisher: The Punisher is a normal guy (albeit an ex-Marine) with a burning desire to kill criminals and somewhat dubious sanity. Despite this, he is often depicted as effortlessly outwitting, humiliating or beating up other super-powered characters who should logically be far more than he can handle. That said, it's zigzagged in that some stories have shown him being beaten up or humiliated in turn.
    • In the Suicide Kings Deadpool storyline, The Punisher beats Deadpool up to the point where he needs rescuing by Outlaw and Daredevil. With a sword. This is despite the Punisher being an ordinary human and Deadpool being a guy in peak physical fitness who heals all injuries, never gets tired and is almost definitely the best swordfighter in the Marvel Universe - plus, it's his book! In fact, any fight between someone with a Healing Factor and someone without is only going to end one way — that would be why they apparently put DP's factor on a major go-slow for this series.
    • Punisher was on the receiving end in a Punisher/Batman crossover. Bats beat him in about two panels and described his fighting style as that of a bar brawler, which given Frank Castle's rather extensive training includes SEAL training and one particular writer went into detail on his martial arts techniques....But mostly, that crossover is also another stupid case of Batman's own Popularity Power at work.
    • In the JLA/Avengers crossover, Batman also kicks Punisher's ass off-panel after realizing Punisher is going to just slaughter a bunch of mobsters.
    • In a Garth Ennis crossover with Wolverine, Punisher treats Wolverine with disdain, blasting off his face with a shotgun, then shooting him in the balls with the shotgun for complaining about it, then running over him with a steamroller. In some fairness, Logan was drunk.
    • When Punisher tried to assassinate Norman Osborn, then leader of the Dark Avengers, he found his Popularity Power turned off, as Daken showed what a confrontation between Punisher and a Wolverine out for blood would really look like: Daken shrugs off everything Punisher has, toying with him, and then chops him up like a meat processor before dumping his chunks down the sewers.
  • Spider-Man:
    • That time Spider-Man took down Firelord, a former Herald of Galactus, in The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #270. We're talking Silver Surfer-level power. Granted, Firelord swore he would fight Spider-Man in single combat (and not just, you know, OBLITERATE NEW YORK STATE WITH A THOUGHT). Spidey beat him after throwing him in the East River, tricking him into a building in the process of being demolished, and exploding a gas station on him, but come on. This guy flies through stars!
      • To further explain how batshit insane this is: Heralds of Galactus are high order Reality Warpers capable of exceeding the speed of light several thousand times over and demolishing planets without trying. The average Herald treats an enraged Hulk as a moderate annoyance; indeed, the Silver Surfer (who at this point in his continuity was only mildly more powerful than Firelord) once defeated the Hulk by the strategy of "let him keep punching me, without any effect, until he finally gets bored and leaves".
      • This moment is so infamous within the comic fandom that "Spider-Man versus Firelord" has actually become a colloquialism used for this trope, Strong as They Need to Be, and Power Creep, Power Seep within comic stories in general.
      • They did attempt a justification for this that is equally flimsy — supposedly, Spider-Man was able to outfight Firelord by adopting a hit-and-run approach that fully utilizes his agility and speed to dodge his attacks and go in-and-out, which proved to be an effective counter against Firelord using raw power. This still doesn't make much sense considering the cosmically-empowered being can go faster than the speed of light at will. While Spidey is certainly fast, capable of appearing as a blur to normal humans at peak, he's still below the level of your average speedster. But this is the closest they could get to justifying why Spidey could pull this off.
      • And in the storyline immediately after the Firelord/Spidey fight — and we mean immediately after, as in the very same day — Firelord got smacked by the full power of the Sanctuary II battlestation, which had just finished spanking the entire Skrull Armada. Firelord was blasted all the way across the solar system and headfirst into a moon at relativistic velocities... and got up out of the smoking crater, staggered a short way, and only then collapsed unconscious. So, Spidey's fist > Death Star level firepower and near-lightspeed collisions with celestial bodies.
      • It gets worse. Literally every single appearance by Firelord in comics prior to this story had Firelord repeatedly both no-selling and dishing out Thor-level hits without straining himself. From Thor, Hercules, Ego the Living Planet, and the original Phoenix. Firelord had a 100% consistent pattern of needing Hulk-class strength to so much as bruise him throughout his entire publication history... until "Spider-Man vs. Firelord". This one was a Trope Codifier.
      • Said incident was even mocked by Spidey himself in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, assuming you play as him during the endgame.
    • Secret Wars also, infamously, had Spidey mop the floor with the X-Men, including Wolverine, all on his own. (Though in this case it should be noted that Spider-Man didn't actually "defeat" people like Colossus and Rogue, just tangled them up in webbing long enough for him to escape.)
    • In an issue of The Infinity Crusade, it is shown that Spidey's popularity power can even evolve into God-Mode Sue, with him defeating the combined forces of Thor, Moondragon, Invisible Woman, Sasquatch, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Moon Knight, Multiple Man, Gamora and Archangel while being under a magical illusion that makes it seem to Spidey that he is fighting his human friends. That's right, Spider-Man defeated them all while holding back like how he would against ordinary humans.
  • Superstar: Back in 2000, Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen wrote a short graphic novel about a hero who was powered by popularity. Kind of. The hero of the story gained superpowers as long as he had the energy to spare, but it was limited and did run out. His father ended up merchandising him to hell and back (even against his express wishes sometimes) with toy lines, live shows, televising his battles, etc. Part of the cost to watch the shows or buying the merch? A small energy donation, not even enough to make you wheeze from tiredness. Of course, being really popular and taking energy donations from millions of fans, he was actually rather powerful.
  • Thunderbolts: One issue subverts this. Bullseye, the group's main Badass Normal and a very popular character best-known for serving as Daredevil's archnemesis, goes up against American Eagle, a Captain Ethnic Navajo superhero who hadn't made a real appearance in decades. The resulting fight is a Curb-Stomp Battle... in Eagle's favor, with the hero overwhelming Bullseye with his Super-Strength and breaking his neck. As Eagle puts it, Bullseye may be notorious, but he got that infamy from tussles with relatively weak heroes and murdering nonpowered civilians. When he tries picking on someone stronger, he crumples like a paper cup.
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Parodied by the Marvel character Squirrel Girl, who manages to hand some of the most powerful, godlike villains in the Marvel Universe a humiliating defeat despite having not particularly impressive superpowers.
    • It's reached the point where other people are starting to recognize her tendency to beat nearly godlike beings, with Deadpool gaining extra recognition for being powerful enough to be defeated by Squirrel Girl. Twice.
    • This is helped along by those writers who dislike the idea of a joke character winning against people who outclass her. Those writers invent Ret Cons or Hand Wave the victory away... and the rest of the writers have her beat up someone bigger instead.
    • As her squirrel companion Tippy-Toe once pointed out in a Breaking the Fourth Wall address to fans who reacted more humorlessly to her tendency to defeat Dr. Doom:
      "Yeah, that's right. Squirrel Girl totally pwns Doc Doom. Know why? 'Cause of somethin' that happened in a story by Steve-freakin'-Ditko! That's so in continuity. So just deal with it, fanboy."
  • The Unbelievable Gwenpool: Discussed, as being an avid comic book reader that somehow found her way into the mainstream Marvel universe, Gwen is perfectly aware that she is in a book and that she has nothing to fear but cancellation. When going up against Deadpool, she is sure she will win because he's just a guest star in her book. Deadpool points out that he has an enormous fanbase and there is no way a D-lister like her could kill him which he demonstrates by easily overpowering her and her team. The only way she survives is by pointing out that the low-tier villain that trapped them and forced them to fight (the aforementioned Arcade) is the actual antagonist of the crossover which makes Deadpool realize they should team up to go after him instead.
    • Invoked again by Future Gwenpool in the fourth arc. She kills a future version of Miles Morales explaining to a shocked Gwen that it's not a problem because she knows she's not allowed to do it. Indeed Miles wakes up in his bed thinking his death was just a dream.
    • Also discussed and played with: Future Gwenpool says that if Gwen becomes evil, she will have a long, successful comic series and could do whatever she wants. This is because the fans loved her as a villain, and her no matter how much she abuses the universe and its people, Status Quo Is God will be invoked and fix any damage. Our Gwen, however, rejects this future and refuses to turn evil, because she can't bare to harm all the characters she's grown to love and care about. But she's fully aware that taking away her rise to fame would prevent her from becoming a hit and keeping her book from being cancelled, likely dooming herself one day.
  • Wolverine: For Wolverine, take for example Marvel Versus DC, which was literally one big popularity contest. One issue had a scene in which Wolverine is able to make short work of Lobo, an alien being that gave Superman a run for his money and destroyed an entire planet, in less than four panels, simply because polls showed that his stats were higher that week. Moreover, both of them have regenerative healing, but Lobo is able to regenerate his entire body From a Single Cell if his entire body is destroyed. The best part? The final blow of the fight took place off-panel, because, apparently, even the writers couldn't figure out how Wolverine could possibly win.
    • According to Stan Lee the "single panel" part is a Coconut Superpowers moment...the polls were held close enough to the publication of the DC vs. Marvel volumes that most of the comics had to be drawn before the polls were finished. The result was drawing all the fights such that they could easily go either way until the very end.
      • And the artist had drawn an alternate ending depicting Lobo's victory (in fact, only the three final panels were different, where instead of Wolvie, it was Lobo raising his hand, picking the cigar from the counter and smoking it).
    • A later issue of Lobo's own comic implied that he was paid to throw the fight regardless, which is in-character for him while also nicely avoiding an outright denial.
      • To be fair, the contest was whoever was immobile first. Maybe in a drinking contest, Wolverine could hold his liquor better.
    • The same series also had Wolverine's X-Men teammate Storm hand a smack-down to Wonder Woman, which seemed more than a little unlikely to many objective observers; however, X-Men titles were selling better than Wonder Woman at the time.
      • Context on the above fight; Storm did not win by keeping the fight at range and spamming typhoons at Diana until she fell over, which would have at least made some kind of sense. Diana was able to make it to melee range and successfully connect with a kick to Storm's head, and Storm still stayed conscious.
      • In addition, Diana's defeat then occurs when she attempts to block Storm's lightning with her magic bracelets and the electricity is conducted into her by the metal. Diana's magical bracelets are specifically non-conductive to energy — she's used them to block things like Superman's heat vision and Zeus' thunderbolts.
      • On the subject of Wonder Woman, in the 90's there was a series of DC Versus Marvel trading cards. When it came time for the long-awaited Justice League vs. Avengers set, the artist had Wonder Woman, arguably the most powerful heroine in The DCU, face off against ...Black Widow. While Black Widow is extremely popular and very kickass in her own right, she's still a Badass Normal with no superpowers, and as such shouldn't be much of a threat to Wonder Woman.
    • In his "Brainwashed by Hydra" arc, Wolverine takes on the like of Namor, the Fantastic Four, and Stan Lee knows how many others, without getting beaten or captured once. While this was arguably justified by Wolverine being given additional support by HYDRA (such as being teleported in and out on top of his targets, or given supplementary weapons), the key word is "arguably".
  • Wonder Woman
    • Cheetah in general seems to be something of an inverse recipient of this. Due to being a relatively less popular and iconic villain relative to other "main nemesis" characters, as well as a design that makes her look like a typical Animal-Themed Superbeing with powers that fundamentally match her apperance, writers have an alarming habit of forgetting that she gets into fistfights with Wonder Woman on the regular. At worst, she should be a skosh below Superman's level, but she has ver few instances of catching a Flash or choking out a kryptonian while she's packed in a lot of losses against people she really shouldn't even be annoyed by, such as Catwoman.
    • Blue Snowman was the first ice themed villain of DC Comics, a brilliant inventor, and the only villain with a will strong enough to outright subvert the Heel–Face Brainwashing of a Venus Girdle. While she was never much of a direct threat to Wonder Woman, she did nonetheless play a direct role in taking down several amazons and should thus be a reasonable threat to the large majority of the DCU. Nonetheless the character has largely been portrayed as a joke, Post Crisis onward, compared to other villains she should technically be just as powerful as or outright superior to like Mr. Freeze, Captain Cold and Killer Frost, with muggles like Steve Trevor confident enough to mock Blue Snowman to her face.
    • In The Bronze Age Doctor Cyber was upgraded with Powered Armor able to last for quite awhile in a direct fight with Wonder Woman. She captured and torture Wonder Woman's sister, Wonder Girl, getting Wonder Woman to give up without a fight until Wonder Woman had to save the rest of the Teen Titans, who tried to save Wonder Girl next but proved incapable of handling Doctor Cyber. In spite of her impressive showings though, Doctor Cyber did not earn fans. This lead to the Post Crisis Doctor Cyber being given upgrades that should have made her even more formiddable before being casually cut up by Donna Troy, the Wonder Girl she had victimized in the previous continuity, and proving to not even be much of a threat to an even less experienced Wonder Girl in Cassie Sandsmark, much less Wonder Woman herself. Doctor Cyber was relegated to being a bit player in team books like The Power Company and World's Finest, at one point even being used as material for new villain Enginehead.
    • Devastation was designed to be have as much Story-Breaker Power from an antagonistic angle that Wonder Woman had as a protagonist. This was bungled from the start when Devastation defeated Wonder Woman with a Mundane Solution too mundane to be believable. Vocal fans ignored the new character to complain to DC about Wonder Woman being driven off with a low caliber handgun firing regular bullets, Devastation's debut was retconned to appease them, and the character was reduced to a subservient member of super villain teams as Devastation's Voluntary Shape Shifting and false memory powers were all but ignored in favor of having more popular villains like Circe, Maxwell Lord, The Morrigan, The Olympians and Doctor Manhattan drive such plots.
    • Maxwell Lord is a literary redundancy in Wonder Woman's Rogues Gallery with powers inferior in nature to those of Hypnota, Doctor Psycho, Devastation and The Children of Ares, while the role of sleazy rich bastard can just as easily be filled by Pricilla Rich, Collector, Angelo Bend, Widow Sazia, Sebastion Ballesteros or Veronica Cale. Wonder Woman could already ward off Lord's superiors with ease and the entire point of the then shocking reveal this backer of Justice League International was secretly an evil manipulator was that Maxwell Lord's powers flat out did not work on Wonder Woman. Evil Maxwell Lord proved quite popular, however, and became strongly associated with Wonder Woman since she was the one to stop him. So he was brought back from the dead and hooked up to a machine kept him from bleeding to death when he used his Psychic Powers. This apparently let Lord mind wipe his existence from the entire planet, including Wonder Woman, even though she was supposed to be immune to him to begin with and just got her own upgrade that made her flat out immune to the afformentioned superior mind manipulators.
  • X-Men:
    • Storm and Magneto were originally classified as Alpha-Level mutants within the X-Men's Random Power Ranking system, putting them both on par with Cyclops and Professor X but below the Omega-Level mutants like Jean Grey and Hope Summers. Come X-Men (2019), however, those two very popular characters were very pointedly included on the list of surviving Omega Level mutants, apparently Retconning their previous classification - though this could have just as much to do with a recognition of the fact that they've repeatedly demonstrated Omega-Level scale power in the past.
    • Arcade has to date, been 100% unsuccessful at killing any superheroes or villains that feature in his appearances. It's assumed that all of his success with Murderworld assassinations occur offscreen. Killing overweight and out of shape businessmen is one thing. But he is clearly out of his league with superpowered characters. But his offbeat characterization (not too unlike The Joker) is probably why he gets to stay around for the occasional guest appearance, and trying to Take a Level in Badass in the pages of the cheap Battle Royale/The Hunger Games ripoff known as Avengers Arena.
  • X-Statix: X-Statix Presents: Dead Girl outright has Doctor Strange stating that if people are missed enough, if they are popular enough, the laws of physics break and they can come back. Of course...Doctor Strange is suffering from a mental illness in this story so take this revelation with a grain of salt.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Go back and watch Return of the Jedi, before Boba Fett's popularity rocketed. Boba has his gun taken out and then gets knocked over like a wuss by a rookie Jedi. He is then propelled into the side of Jabba's sailbarge when a blind man set off his jetpack. By accident. He then rolls right into the Sarlacc's mouth. The final humiliation is granted by the Sarlacc letting out a satisfied belch after swallowing him. Now compare him to the man who, among other things, went head to head with Darth Vader in a Star Wars Expanded Universe story and came out of it alive.
    • It gets even better, in another one he shoots his way out of the sarlacc like some sort of FPS player character; said sarlacc is nearly dead now.
    • Taken to extremes in the pre-Empire novels, where he actually almost killed Mace Windu (aka Samuel-Motherfucking-Jackson) in revenge for his dad's death in Attack of the Clones, when he was no older than thirteen years old.
    • It should be noted that Lucas had no idea Boba was so popular when Return of the Jedi was made. He confesses that Boba would have gotten a much better send-off if he had known.
  • The Green Hornet: Kato being revamped into Hyper-Competent Sidekick taken Up to Eleven was obviously inspired by Bruce Lee's increased popularity since playing the character.
  • Agent Coulson of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a fairly minor character in Iron Man before he became a recurring character throughout the series. At the peak of his popularity, and once his characterization had developed, he was suddenly killed in The Avengers. Upon hearing of this, Twitter and Tumblr exploded with support for him to come back, campaigning the slogan #CoulsonLives. Their attempts were so successful that not only did Marvel bring Coulson Back from the Dead and make him the star of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., they even made tweeting #CoulsonLives unlock a trailer for the TV show.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sylar from Heroes. He cheated death a half a dozen times and reached belief-defying heights of Joker Immunity because the writers seem in love with him. Not only does he have a myriad of powers (which he can increase as the plot demands, though not without some justification) he survived two near fatal attacks (one of which he was originally planned to die from), escaped imprisonment three times, and Elle completely misses him twice with electric blasts when she nailed fast flyer West in one shot. In short, he's a Villain Sue.
  • In Angel, "Destiny" had Angel and Spike in a titanic, epic brawl in an episode sometimes labeled a 'fan dream.' Spike often leads fan polls in popularity with Angel right behind him. Remember, Badass Decay only happened because he was a fan favorite. Originally the episode was to have Angel win, because it is his show, but the writers realised that they were missing a golden opportunity to drive home Angel's loss of motivation. Once Angel got back his groove in later episodes he would soundly beat Spike in a normal fight, even once as a puppet. It's also worth noting that Spike actually beat Buffy in a fight once, which Angel never did - though Spike has a particular advantage when fighting Slayers, because he's sussed out how they think, which is how he managed to kill two of them with relative ease.
    • This carried over from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where Spike became immensely popular and went from a recurring villain to one of the main characters and underwent a full Heel–Face Turn. Through his time on the show, he ends up surviving a lot of things he probably shouldn't, as well as crossing the Scoobies enough that some fans argue Buffy probably should have staked him. Even when he did die in the season 7 finale, he was pretty immediately brought back to life on Angel and joined the main cast there.
    • Pretty much most of the focus of the Angel series was that he was well-known and going to be a popular player in the apocalypse. But on whose side? Turns out he was well in the midst of it already; who said the apocalypse couldn't drag out over decades?.
    • Faith gets this as well. She was originally going to be written out and had been given the Designated Monkey treatment. Fans loved her however so she was kept for the remainder of season three. She then appeared in season four (Buffy) and one (Angel), eventually being put in a prison cell. She would return in season seven\four.
  • In a bit of an odd example, Iron Chef America and Iron Chef Bobby Flay. Now, he doesn't -win- an unfair amount, but he gets -chosen- more than every other chef in the show by a huge margin because he's the most popular Food Network star in the series. Basically, the episodes in which he's chosen get a lot more views than any other chef's, so Food Network has him picked all the time.
  • Dancing with the Stars:
    • Jerry Springer didn't win, but he got a lot farther than his dancing talent alone would have carried him. It got to the point that he actually asked his fans to stop voting for him, as he only appeared on the show to learn to dance and was tired of coming back.
    • This is also arguably the reason why Jerry Rice won out over Stacy Keibler. Many people thought that Keibler was the most talented dancer on the show.
    • In the British equivalent Strictly Come Dancing, John Sergeant famously pulled out because he felt that his popularity power was unfair on the contestants who were actually good dancers.
  • Xena from Xena: Warrior Princess was a beneficiary of this, having grown popular enough to have her own spinoff show after appearing on Hercules. Even though she's a mortal warrior, Xena has gone on to beat people far above her weight class and accomplish other feats that one would think is impossible for someone who isn't a god or demi-god. In short, she's slain multiple deities from Greece and from other lands, single-handedly fought off entire armies, killed off almost all of the Olympians, fought off arch-angels, and defeated not one but TWO incarnations of the Judeo-Christian Devil. Admittedly, she does gain the ability to kill gods but even then, it's questionable if she should even be able to exercise that ability against gods as powerful and as experienced as Artemis and Athena.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Professional Wrestling uses this trope to full advantage of course, with most wrestlers' positions on the cards determined entirely by how popular they are. However, most pro wrestling promoters aren't above subverting the trope, whether it's to establish a new gimmick, keep things unpredictable, or simply to give the fans a happy moment as the dominant heel gets beaten by the lowest of the low.
    Wrestlecrap: There were 18 WCW Title victories in the year 2000; at 12 days David Arquette had a longer reign than Chris Benoit (who admittedly quit the day after winning), Sid Vicious, Jeff Jarrett three times, DDP, Ric Flair twice, Kevin Nash, Booker T and Vince Russo.
    • One of the most well-known subversions was WCW wrestler Bill Goldberg, who, in his first match, got the standard Jobber treatment — no music, no televised entrance, no flashy costume, just a quick announcement of name and hometown during his opponent's much flashier entrance. And then he won that match. And then 171 more. By the end of that streak, he had his own Popularity Power going.
    • Another storyline involved a WWF Jobber losing a few matches to better-known wrestlers under names like "The Cannonball Kid", "The Good Luck Kid", "The Kamikaze Kid", etc. until finally, now simply known as "The Kid", he scored an upset victory over Razor Ramon. This earned him the name "The 1-2-3 Kid", as his entire gimmick was that he started getting upset victories, winning 2 more times against Razor Ramon, then beating other top heels as they came out of the woodwork to put the kid "in his place". Razor actually made a Heel–Face Turn simply by taking his losses in good humor and taking the kid under his wing. Eventually. As a side note, said kid was Sean Waltman, the wrestler later known as Syxx (in the nWo) and X-Pac (in D-Generation X). Subverted once he became the Trope Namer for X-Pac Heat.
    • And then there was the famous Barry Horowitz, whose 800-strong losing streak came to an abrupt end when he beat Skip of the Bodydonnas, rolling Skip up for a pinfall when he stopped to do push-ups in the middle of the match. He'd go on to get two more wins, one more against Skip and one against Hakushi, and again Hakushi was able to turn face by taking his loss in good spirits (of course, Hakushi's face turn was somewhat less successful than Razor's, as he went from the enigmatic badass "White Angel of Death" to a Funny Foreigner).
    • ECW did this with a guy by the name of Mikey Whipwreck, who would take vicious beatings in the ring without getting in a lick of offense. Eventually, the fans started sympathizing with him, and started to root for Mikey to win; and when, as a surprise substitute for Terry Funk in a match for the ECW Tag Team Championship (with tag team partner Cactus Jack), Mikey not only landed an offensive maneuver against his opponents (The Public Enemy), but managed to get the pinfall and win the match, making him even more beloved amongst the fans.
      • WWE tried repeating it with Colin Delaney, formerly Colin Olsen of CHIKARA. However, the angle got abandoned about a month or so in.
    • "The Brooklyn Brawler" Steve Lombardi, a man whose name has become synonymous with Jobber, holds a victory over Triple H.
    • The Futurama example in the page quote, obviously.
  • On the non-subverted side of the fence, there's Hulk Hogan. And Hulk Hogan always, always won, thanks to "the power of the Hulkamaniacs", even when faced with somebody who was bigger, badder, or just plain better. This went on for most of the '80s, and the beginning of the '90s, across two different wrestling promotions, before it got stale enough for a Face–Heel Turn to even be considered.
    • There's the half-straight / half-inverted example of John Cena, particularly from his WWE Championship win in 2005 until his return from an injury in 2008. The vast majority of the crowd (i.e. the men) absolutely loathed Cena and would call for his head at every turn... but due to Cena's popularity with women and children, he went on to constantly overcome the odds of more popular Heels en route to one title run that lasted just three months shy of a year (and with only a three week break between his next one that lasted another five months) and one that went just over a month past a full year and even that was only ended due to aforementioned injury.
  • In a Meta Example during the 1990s, The Undertaker had his urn stolen and melted down by Ted DiBiase's henchman, Kama Mustafa. Taker turned to his Creatures of the Night to give him the strength to beat Kama in a casket match. Being one of the most popular wrestlers in the WWF, he had no trouble getting enough.
  • You can always tell when a Faux Action Girl face Diva is starting to get really popular with the fans: she'll start getting out-of-nowhere victories over heel Divas who are bigger and/or a great deal more athletic. Sometimes this will be due to other face wrestlers helping the good girl out (which is, of course, "cheating" when done by the heels), but at other times it's just due to the heel Diva's stupidity and/or overconfidence. Which is how Stacy Keibler, Maria Kanellis, and Kelly Kelly were able to gain victories over Molly Holly, Melina Perez, and Beth Phoenix, respectively, despite having none of their ability.
    • See, WWE's plan was to push Jacqueline but untrained Sable got really popular and got pushed instead. Then Trish Stratus, who had spent her first year as a valet, defeated Ivory in a match so fans began to take her seriously as a wrestler instead of another model. Since then it hasn't worked. When Kelly Kelly became Divas Champion and went over on Beth Phoenix twice, fans chanted "BULL-SHIT!!" at her.
    • Subverted with the debut of Brie Bella on SmackDown, who was immediately put into a match against former Women's Champion Victoria. Brie at first played the part of a Lovable Coward, hiding from Victoria under the ring only to magically reappear from out from the under the other side of the ring, slip behind Victoria, and roll her up for a pin. Yes, in her very first match! Then it was eventually revealed that the girl who'd pinned Victoria was Brie's twin sister, Nikki, who had switched places with her in the middle of the match. (And then, double-subverted in that both of the Bella Twins remained faces for a time).
  • George "The Animal" Steele has said since that his feud with Randy "Macho Man" Savage wasn't intended to last as long as it did but it got so over that they ran with it.
  • If a heel gets popular enough they may make a Heel–Face Turn (which tends to curb said popularity, making them do a Face–Heel Turn and so on and so forth). The most notable example in Ruthless Aggression and PGWWE is Randy Orton. Every time he attacked someone, people cheered him on, even when said person that was attacked was a highly popular face. It eventually reached a point that they had no choice but to turn Orton himself face. The dissolution of Legacy was originally have Ted Dibiase Jr as the face and Randy and Cody Rhodes as the heels. However, Randy's popularity made it so they had to rewrite the storyline to make him the face. And his popularity continued to the point that he stayed face for three years and was only able to turn heel against the massively over Daniel Bryan, seeing as (with the exception of CM Punk), attacking anyone else would have still gotten him cheered. It should be noted that the only thing that changed about Randy was who he attacked. Otherwise he was still the same sadistic psychopath he's always been.
  • The only times Shawn Michaels isn't booed in Canada is when he's in DX, supposedly because of this trope. In fact, Shawn's so popular that his Chronic Backstabbing Disorder never managed to make the fans boo him outside of Canada — until he screwed the massively over Daniel Bryan out of the WWE Championship. The fact that going against Daniel Bryan is enough to turn the massively popular Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels heel showcases his popularity power. Bryan had so much Popularity Power that it eventually forced them to change plans for the biggest show of the year just so that year's main event wouldn't implode in on itself.
  • Despite losing in 2011's Forjando un Ídolo, Sangre Nueva and En Busca de un Ídolo tournaments, Titán was able to advance to the finals of "En Busca" and win the whole thing. Why? Because CMLL used a point system that was determined by fans votes. Essentially, fans demanded their favorite wrestler win already!
  • Despite grooming Kazuchika Okada to succeed Hiroshi Tanahashi as the new face of the company, New Japan Pro-Wrestling ended up putting Hiroshi Tanahashi's matches back in the main event over Okada's, even though Okada was IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Why? Because the fans voted for Hiroshi Tanahashi to stay in the main event! Historically, the IWGP Heavyweight belt hasn't necessarily been viewed as the most important of New Japan's, even thought the company usually presents it as the top prize, due to cases like this, as well as popular wrestlers like Tiger Mask and Shinsuke Nakamura making fans hold the Junior Heavyweight and Intercontinental belts in equal respect to it.
  • Almost the entire reason behind Bob Sapp's success in Japan. K1 and All Japan specifically picked him up from NWA Wildside because they were in search of a Scary Black Man that would resemble a TV show villain but the fan response was the exact opposite of scared.
  • The Rock tried to invoke this to put over his cousin Roman Reigns at the 2015 Royal Rumble. If it had been for anything else, even if said event had occurred in Philadelphia like that year's Rumble had, it probably would've worked. However, the live crowd booed Rocky anyway, pissed at the company for doing such a terrible job of booking as of late and the fact that a Creator's Pet was getting what was essentially the biggest push any WWE Superstar could have. That's not to say Roman was that hated — had his main event push come at a later date, the fans probably wouldn't have reacted so bad. However, his character was so mishandled by management, that since fans can't boo any officials besides the McMahons, who are heels anyway, he's the one who had to take the brunt of the rage.
  • AJ Styles, who was such an awesome wrestler that he always got the loudest pop in TNA. Attempts to turn him heel failed because of this reason — the most they ever managed was a Heroic Neutral tweener. AJ never managed to become a real heel until he went to New Japan Pro-Wrestling, a company that had previously only seen his work personally a handful of times at the most, and became the new face of the Bullet Club. Even then, he managed to win over the Japanese fans because he was, again, such an awesome wrestler. Said popularity would then follow him to WWE, where his shirt would sell out within less than an hour of his debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble, and his entrance theme would crack the iTunes' top 100 songs within a day of being uploaded.
  • After their perennial rivals reDRagon had petitioned Ring of Honor's match maker Nigel McGuinness for a shot at Matt Taven and Mike Bennett of The Kingdom in revenge for Adam Cole's continual harassment of Kyle O'Reilly, The Young Bucks invoked this by petitioning the fans to get a shot at The Kingdom instead. McGuinness had already said yes to reDRagon and refused to go back on his word but did have The Bucks added to the match to appease the fans, making it a three way.
  • With the retirement of Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose became the most popular wrestler on the main roster. While he isn't as popular as Bryan (no one is), the fans made it blatantly clear that they wanted him in the main event of WrestleMania 32. Hence, the disappointment when the company gave that spot to Roman Reigns (again) to, according to rumors, crown him as the next top babyface and Cena's successor for several years. They were so unhappy that it took the return of Shane McMahon and Ambrose getting the Brock Lesnar match (making him one of the sub-main events) to stop the majority from boycotting the PPV all together. Then the match happened, and it being a standard Lesnar squash (albeit a no holds barred extended one) caused fans to turn against everyone involved except Dean (because of this trope and because Dean was more-or-less the MVP of WrestleMania season, putting in so much work that it would be a disservice to everyone if they didn't reward him in some fashion). The pop when he finally won the WWE Championship at the 2016 Money in the Bank PPV was easily one of the loudest heard all year.
    Ambrose was so popular that when he teased his long-awaited Face–Heel Turn after his return from injury in late 2018, the fans cheered for him. Ambrose was only able to effectively turn heel by doing so the one night the fans couldn't and wouldn't accept it: the night Reigns was forced to relinquish the Universal Championship and go on hiatus from wrestling to battle his leukemia. The vulnerable atmosphere combined with the implosion of the Shield (by having Ambrose turn on Rollins, his last remaining Shield brother), the very stable that Reigns was so closely tied to that he still used the same ring gear and music of it even after their initial breakup, was enough for the fans to finally turn on Ambrose and accept his new role as a heel.
  • The previous entry on IWGP fan votes doesn't mention who the number one contender to Okada's belt was for a reason. No Limit were once among New Japan's most popular tag teams, which basically won them a paid trip to North America, where they would be buried in TNA. Then they would rebuild in CMLL, a sign of things to come. TNA sent its World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Hardy to New Japan, NJPW attempted to use Hardy to jump start Tetsuya Naito's singles career and to say it didn't work would be an understatement. Fans didn't care about the match, when Naito's partner Yujiro Takahashi turned on him because of the match or when Naito overcame the odds to ascend into IWGP title contention. When he was booed it was considered an improvement because fans often forgot about him entirely. So after "Okada" was voted out of the main event Naito went to Mexico again, hooked up with Rush and Los Ingobernables, saw how they turned absolute hatred from the crowd into something they could work with and took the idea back to NJPW to see if he could do the same with apathy. He fought his way into the G1 Climax and no one cared until they saw him basically slack his way to victory over an utterly perplexed Tanahashi. Fans suddenly loved Naito, who for the most part acted as if he ignored them, which made them love him more. Suddenly he was IWGP Intercontinental champion and fans were given the chance to vote for him to main event WrestleKingdom over Okada, though Naito of course turned it down, saying NJPW should let the heavyweight title match go last like always. If he shows he cares he might lose support after all.
  • The Shield is the most popular faction of the modern era of WWE — only The New Day can compare to their level of success. The fans love the Shield so much that even Roman Reigns, who had nuclear X-Pac Heat after he retired The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33 earlier that year, shook off most of their vitriol when the stable reunited for their second run in 2017, as even Reigns' most ardent haters are/were marks for the Shield. The other two members of the group, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, were already massively popular, and became even more popular when they teased a possible reunion (by the end of their reconciliation storyline in 2017, the fans were literally begging for them to forgive each other and reunite).
  • Jeff Hardy. Up until his infamous Victory Road 2011 disaster, Jeff had ping-ponged between both WWE and TNA numerous times because of his addiction problems, only to be brought back anyway by both because he was that popular. CM Punk got massive heat just for cashing-in on Jeff with his Money in the Bank contract at Extreme Rules 2009, which he used to launch himself into being WWE's top heel at the time. Their subsequent feud was so over that they main-evented SummerSlam over Cena and Orton (and is tellingly still Punk's most famous feud after his rivalry with John Cena). It took until Victory Road for both companies to put their feet down and acknowledge that his immense popularity was no longer a justification for allowing him to keep his drug-addled lifestyle.
  • CM Punk. God, CM Punk. After the Pipebomb and Money in the Bank 2011, he was one of biggest wrestling superstars on the planet, and continued to be so for the rest of his WWE career. He is so popular that even after he walked out on WWE and on wrestling in general, crowds kept on chanting for him for the seven years he was gone, partially to piss off WWE management, and partially because they missed him that much. When he finally returned to wrestling by signing with AEW and debuting in his hometown of Chicago, he was greeted with what the official account of the Guinness World Records proposed was the biggest wrestling pop of all time. People in the stands were literally crying as they welcomed him home, because that's how much he meant to them.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A variation on this frequently crops up in licensed roleplaying games: characters from the original canon will be given game statistics built on the presumption that such characters are the absolute best specimens of their particular niche. What begins as a hope for insurance against potential Player Characters running roughshod over the continuity can easily become ludicrous when compared to the game's own stated benchmarks for mundane characters, resulting in situations where such individuals couldn't actually be challenged/threatened by scenarios faithfully reproducing their own adventures. What makes it even worse are the Game-Breaker powers and ridiculously inflated abilities designers will give canon characters that are often direct violations of the rules. Players who see these stats and abilities can rather reasonably demand why their characters can't attain the same levels of power, which can put a DM in an awkward position.
    • Subverted often with those same characters. While they often have overinflated levels in the skills and abilities that they demonstrate on the show, they are usually so poorly built (as are most pregenerated "example" characters) that they cannot actually handle the canon adventures they are described as undertaking successfully, nor would they last very long at all in a real campaign. Nor would any PC with a mind to clear out the overabundance of Game-Breaker characters have much trouble in doing so, even at a drastically lower level.
    • The Star Trek The Role Playing Game from FASA clearly assumed that not only was the Enterprise the most successful ship of its class in service, but that every position on the ship was filled by the single most competent individual in that field to be found in Starfleet. One must feel sorry for the security chief of any other vessel by comparison...note 
    • White Wolf's Street Fighter: The Storytelling Game, theoretically based on the arcade game franchise, a by-the-book starting campaign is more about the role roughly "real world compliant" martial artists would have in a world with Street Fighter characters in it (i.e. window dressing.)
    • Averted in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel RPGs. All major characters are statted out, and they are indeed much more experienced than the PCs. However, the character's stats and xp are tracked for each individual season. Want to have Buffy on par with your group? Just set it around the first season.
      • Even then, the game gives you a choice of character type between Heroes/Champions, with awesome stats, and White Hats/Investigators, with worse stats but more Drama Points to begin with plus a lower cost for more Drama Points. There is also a third option, Experienced Hero, which gives you better stats than the Hero and the Drama Point use of the White Hat. The Experienced Hero is designed for a whole party to use together, for balance, to reach the power level of a slightly more experienced canon character, although still not quite as experienced as the canon builds.
    • A particularly egregious example would be R. Talsorian's Bubblegum Crisis RPG. The Knight Sabers were built to ludicrous levels; Priss was superhumanly strong and could survive a hit from a 120mm cannon without her Hard Suit or any other protection.
  • Many roleplaying games use builds of the creator's own PCs as background for their publishing the setting. Having been played for many years, they obviously reach extremely high levels. But, having been played for that long, they usually are pretty good at surviving a normal campaign or fending off lower level PCs.
    • Elminster is obviously the most powerful of these for the Forgotten Realms, although most of the major FR characters are subjected to it in one form or another.
    • Mordenkainen, Tenser and other characters got this treatment in the Greyhawk setting.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Other Strangeness had an elaborate character creation system that provided rules for creating mutant squirrels, Moose, Housecats, or whatever. But the title characters were impossible to create according to the rules. Their Ninja Skills were fine, but their mutations were more advantageous than was possible for Player Characters.
  • The Revised Core rulebook of the Star Wars d20 Roleplaying Game gives all the main characters average stats. Coupled with the fact that they are poorly built, this actually means that the Luke (circa Episode IV) of the core books is weaker than many heroes on their third or fourth adventures. Fortunately, later supplements improved the NPC quality, bringing the heroes to an even level with the average PC.
    • Luke wasn't that powerful, though. Circa episode IV, he barely even knew how to use the Force, had only some casual pilot experience under his belt, and was really just on his first adventure himself.
    • This is also somewhat a backlash from the WEG D6 version of the rules, which gave all the canon characters -incredibly- pumped up stats. Han Solo, who is shown in the movies as being a pretty bad liar ('We're, uh, all fine here. How're you?') is given 8d or so in lying for instance. And 8d being basically one of the best people in a galactic sector or such. Their other stats are just as inflated. (Starting PCs for the record could start out at 5d-6d). Their focus skills were even worse. Someone once added it up and decided it'd take over a decade to get as high as Han Solo or Luke.
  • Starting with Dungeons & Dragons 3.0, dragons are given "Challenge Ratings" that are lower than usual for their power level. Thus, if the dungeon master follows the challenge rating system, dragons are always more powerful than whatever else the player characters are facing. The game designers state that this was intentional, so that encounters with dragons always feel special.
  • Warhammer 40,000, Kharn the Betrayer. The developers of the game seem to have notice his popularity after game's their edition, because his incarnation in the next rulebook made him cheaper to field and a stronger unit, and he essentially stayed the same in the rulebook after that.
    • The Popularity of the Black Templars Space Marine Chapter was so notable, they got their own Codex which was something reserved for first founding Chapters.

    Video Games 
  • In the Mega Man X series, Zero somehow pushed his way from Mauve Shirt status to the co-protagonist role - even after being killed! Later on, he also got his own series. Subversion. Word of God says Zero's design was originally intended to be Mega Man X but was made into a side character Ensemble Dark Horse due to fear of Executive Meddling and They Changed It, Now It Sucks!. Meaning this instance of the trope was actually the Unintentional Backup Plan that allowed the creator's original setup to happen all along.
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, Axel was originally going to be killed by Roxas in the beginning prologue. But due to all the hype surrounding his character and how much the fans liked him, he not only got many more scenes but is now one of the supporting protagonists!
  • In the Touhou Project series, Cirno started out as not only being one of the weakest characters but being famous for it within the fandom. She's the second stage boss in the first game in which she appears and the stage one miniboss in the next game (making her the weakest boss in that entire game). However, her popularity propelled her to become a playable character in two later games. Her storyline in Hisoutensoku seems to put her as being as being only somewhat weaker than the main characters, putting her at well above average for the setting.
    • She now has her own game. Interestingly, however, she's depicted as being a lot less powerful than fans assume and even somewhat below her Fighting Game incarnation. Most of the foes she fights are fairies (of which she is already the strongest, meme notwithstanding) and she gets roughed up in the process of defeating the Extra Boss (Marisa), a first for the series PCs.
      • This is explained by her game talking place after Perfect Cherry Blossom (a while before Hisoutensoku).
    • The fighting game Hopeless Masquerade actually turns this into a gameplay mechanism. Your actions will raise or lower popularity, with max popularity allowing you to do your strongest attack, and being more popular than your opponent is the way to win by time-out. Toyosatomimi no Miko goes one step further by growing stronger or weaker based on how popular she is.
  • Leonhardt Raglen in Agarest Senki is the protagonist of the first generation only. However, his storyline, his awesome stats, his fairly heroic status, and his badassery earned him the number one spot as to who the fans want to bring back in Agarest Senki 2 where he suddenly can pull off flash steps and Implausible Fencing Powers. And then he does it again with Compile Heart's new game, Mugen Souls.
  • In the original Mobile Suit Gundam Char was barely able to harm the original Gundam with his modified Zaku II and was an even fight with Amuro when his skills were only half-decent. In Dynasty Warriors: Gundam's original story he battles some of Gundams most powerful suits and pilots(including some who beat him in the Hyaku Shiki) in that Zaku II and often times has the upperhand which is made all the more ridiculous by Amuro and the original Gundam barely able to go toe-to-toe with many of these people.
  • In Pokémon:
    • Starting in Generation VI, several Pokémon have Mega Evolutions that make them bigger, more menacing, and more powerful. The creators have stated that the Pokémon chosen to receive Mega Evolutions are based mostly on popularity rather than balancing, with two of the most popular, Mewtwo and Charizard, receiving two Mega Evolution forms each.
    • In previous generations, popularity was a factor when deciding which Pokémon should get a regular evolution or a baby form.
    • A form of this came back for Pokémon Sun and Moon, where a few Gen I Pokémon were given alternate forms known as regional variants. This is a subversion though because these forms are explicitly not a Super Mode and the Pokémon that received them were largely ignored and stayed largely the same for the 20 years that the series had been around for during the games' release.
    • This is the reason the "Pikaclone" archetype exists — Pikachu is the series mascot and one of the most recognizable Pokémon around, so naturally it spawned an entire subspecies of similar adorable Electric-type rodents to cash in on its popularity. Pikachu has also been in every regional Pokédex except Unova's (and that was only because Unova's regional 'dex consists entirely of new-at-the-time Pokémon).
  • In Splatoon, both popularity and winning matches play into the final results of Splatfest events, with how the score is calculated changing over time across its various entries. The first game saw the most changes to this formula. The first formula — Popularity + (Wins x 2) — led to the first several Splatfests being won solely due to overwhelming popularity even if the other team won far more matches. Due to complaints, they increased the amount winning matches influenced the final results — from Wins x 4, then to Wins x 6 — to try and balance things out. This ended up having the opposite effect, now making less popular team practically guaranteed to win. Splatoon 2 would add "clout" (i.e., synergy with your team in regards to clothing, weapons, etc.) as an third factor to fix this issue.
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knight of the Fallen Empire the loveable droid HK-55 was clearly intended to be Killed Off for Real. A possibility to resurrect him via Brain Uploading is explicitly shut down as impossible. However, because he turned out to be Breakout Character of the expansion, he was brought Back from the Dead without his memory, though only for those who have subscribed on a certain date.
  • The only reason why most people remembered Mortal Kombat: Special Forces was for the boss Tremor, an Ensemble Dark Horse since his debut and was a character most players requested to be added to a full game. Mortal Kombat 9 included the earth elemental as an exclusive PlayStation Vita battle as an non-playable Unexpected Character, before being added to Mortal Kombat X as Downloadable Content with his own unique moveset and ending.
  • The first 5 Star characters in Marvel Puzzle Quest was the cosmic-level Silver Surfer, followed by a poster boy for this trope, Wolverine (in his Old Man Logan incarnation). The next one again had huge Super Weight, Jean Grey as Phoenix... and then came the "leaders" of the two sides in Captain America: Civil War, Cap and Iron Man - a Badass Normal and a man in Powered Armor. Thus became the benchmark for the 5* tier, unbelievably strong characters (Doctor Strange, Thanos, Black Bolt, God Emperor Doom, Prophet of Knull Carnage), strong characters whose comic book history boosts them (Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, Storm, Iceman, two versions of Spider-Man), and tie-ins to new Marvel adaptations (usually the MCU movies, along with the Netflix versions of Daredevil and Jessica Jones, and Spiderverse Kingpin; a few were powerhouses in the media, such as Captain Marvel, Loki, Thor, Hela, and TV's Ghost Rider).
  • In Magical Girl Pretty Miyuki, a Show Within a Show of Yandere Simulator, a Magical Girl's power is enhanced by how popular she is. This is a problem for Miyuki, as while she's pretty popular in school, that's small potatoes compared to the power that celebrity and idol magical girls have.
  • The Neptunia series is an In-Universe example. The Goddesses are only as strong based on how much love and support they get from their people, represented by a nation's shares. Being popular and winning over the populace is Serious Business. Some games will make the goddess of each nation have greater stats based on how many shares they've got.

  • In Bob and George it's stated that fan popularity or "Star Power", like the plastic wrap force fields for main characters, means a character will not die. This is very literal, as when Bob tried to attack briefly appearing, but popular Metool-D2 he spontaneously started generating a force field. When Star Man tried this, it was shown that Ran can counter this with "the taint of communism":
    Star Man: Oh no, I've been blacklisted!
    • In a later comic, again with Star Man, Star Man declared that he knew about Popularity Power and how it would allow him to defeat anyone. However, he immediately forfeits when he finds out he's slated to battle against the bigger Fan Favorite, Shadow Man.
  • Discussed to the point of parody in Samurai Pizza Cats: Through the 4th Wall. Speedy loses fights against both Twilight Sparkle and the White Ranger and Guido explains that he lost due to the others having more popularity power.
  • In Scoob and Shag, Popularity Power is a tangible in-universe force. The power of a Toone's Ballyhoo is directly proportional to how much they're loved by humans. For example, the relatively-obscure Swiper can only detect an enemy's Weak Point. On the other end of the spectrum, Mickey Mouse can instantly kill anyone with a hand gesture in the past or a single thought in the present.

    Web Original 
  • GameFAQs has the Character Battles which seemingly pit two characters against each other and have users vote for the winner. While there is some debate going on, popularity ultimately decides the winner. This is sometimes ridiculed to the degree it's practically a subversion of itself, such as a Tetris piece winning the contest.
  • Subverted to hell and back in the Earth 2706 universe. A-list characters are relegated to guest star appearances, while C- and D-list heroes, and even more so villains, are given the spotlight.
  • Absolutely defied in DEATH BATTLE!. The makers have made it explicit that they do not allow a character to win by Popularity Power, unless their research shows the character in question would win. Even if it's a character that's popular with themselves, as "Haggar vs. Zangief" shows. This is easily shown in highly divisive battles "Son Goku vs. Superman" and "Yang Xiao Long vs. Tifa Lockhart" as Superman and Yang both won their matches, infuriating Dragon Ball fans because they feel Goku is much stronger than Superman despite two matches proving otherwise and infuriating Final Fantasy fans because they felt that ScrewAttack was trying to suck up to Rooster Teeth for RWBY's third season and that Tifa should have won.
  • Super Power Beat Down involves characters from various comic books, video games and films meeting and fighting each other. The winner is based purely on whichever character gets the most votes from fans. Superman, Wolverine, and Casey Jones have overwhelming votes compared to their opponents. Even the two episodes with Tommy Oliver is very close, despite Jason David Frank urging his fans to vote for his character.

    Western Animation 
  • In Danny Phantom, this is one of Danny's enemies' powers. Ember McLain is a ghost whose power grows exponentially the more people cheer her name. The only way Danny can initially defeat her is by having Tucker sing on international TV... an act so horrifying it de-hypnotizes the populace of the world almost instantly.
  • In the DCAU, Darkseid fired his Omega Beam at Batman...and missed. Well, more of a "forced Batman to run all over the place before finally positioning a Mook into it and let it die instead." Still counts, though. On the other hand, Batman's actual attacks were at best distractions for Superman to capitalize on and at worst mere annoyances.
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Batman gets this in spades, taking direct punches from beings like Mongul, Kalibak, and Darkseid, and... surviving them. Somewhat subverted in that there are a few episodes that show Batman dying, but each and every time he's resurrected through mystical means. While he wasn't hit by Darkseid's Omega Beam, the effort he needed to exert to actually deal with it obviously exhausted him... and then Darkseid began hand to hand combat.
    • Many times the show completely subverts the trope as Batman often needs the episode's guest hero to save him, and has a times been utterly destroyed when he hasn't had any help, aside from the above with Darksied, Lex Luthor also once broke into the Batcave while armed with a suit he built to take on Superman, and proceeds to flatten Batman while No Selling every weapon thrown at him.
  • Discussed and lampshaded in the episode "Wally T" of Teen Titans Go! with the eponymous fan. Raven states that fans are where superheroes get their strength, being the main reason the really famous ones like the members of the Justice League are so powerful. Wally T's proximity to the Titans vastly boosts their power levels, but their powers fade completely when they alienate him in their attempts to pander for more fans.