Follow TV Tropes


Power Creep, Power Seep

Go To

"While no one doubts Fat Princess' moxy, she probably wouldn't fare too well against Kratos' homicidal rages and penchant for ripping the heads off of enemies. Balance is key."

A character who is designed in their own universe basically needs to be written to be effective against other characters featured in that universe. Generally, your main conflict won't be an eternal war between Super Jesus and his nemesis Bob note .

However, a problem occurs once you try a crossover. If the crossover involves characters who were never created to work together and have an obvious difference in scope or power, you're stuck at trying to make sure each is effective. This usually involves two scenarios where you either Nerf the powerful character or boost the "weaker" one, because you get the inevitable "Why are they even useful in this situation?"

Occasionally this fiddling with power levels sticks, and you essentially have a pseudo-Alternate Universe character. Sometimes characters will even get new powers just for balance, but once they go back to their own worlds these enhanced powers are quickly forgotten.

If this happens often enough, it can create an inflation in Power Levels across the entire fictional universe, and can sometimes push characters into the B- or C-list, as they simply can't compete anymore.

Another way to get around the same problem is to create a Plot Tailored to the Party.

See also Repower. Compare CCG Importance Dissonance, PVP Balanced and Popularity Power. Sister Trope to Story-Breaker Team-Up. Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond is what happens when this trope does not come into play, where characters that are weak in their home universe appear much stronger in another universe. Can be justified by Your Magic's No Good Here when the two character's settings are alternate universes, or giving the more powerful character's dimension a stronger Background Magic Field, if such a thing exist in-universe. See also, Crossover Power Acquisition, where power from one franchise is transferred to another character during a crossover.

Very similar to Strong as They Need to Be with the key difference being that this trope gets invoked whenever the characters are brought into a whole new setting/universe/continuity or are handled by a different author whereas Strong As They Need To Be tends to happen within the same setting and is invoked by the main authors.

Note that Tropes Are Tools. A crossover decided solely by canon power levels would be pretty boring and limiting to the possibilities, especially in video games, where some of the most acclaimed crossover titles take this trope in stride.

Not to be confused with Power Creep, which happens to games when new content is added that overpowers existing content.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • The One Piece x Toriko x Dragon Ball special, being a crossover special, brings out a truckload of these. Most of these problems are the result of having One Piece and Toriko characters fight along the Post-Buu Saga Dragon Ball cast, when Goku and his allies had already reached insane levels of power in canon.
    • Zoro and Zebra stalemating with Vegeta's Galick Gun. note 
    • When Piccolo teams up with Sanji and Sunny to fight Akami, the latter two fighters are unable to damage Akami thanks to its Combat Tentacles until Piccolo comes in and catches it off guard. Then the trio does a Combination Attack. While Sanji and Sunny are very powerful in their own right, they're still nowhere near Piccolo in terms of raw power.note 
    • Gohan being worfed before he gets to do anything.
    • And finally presenting both Luffy and Toriko with power-levels comparable to those of Son Goku. Luffy and Toriko are able to fight with Goku on even footing (though Goku, as opposed to his opponents, wasn't fighting seriously 'till the very end, and the fight was most of the time Luffy and Toriko vs Goku, instead of a Mêlée à Trois. Luffy, Toriko and their allies able to last against an enemy Goku and the Z-Fighters had difficulty against. Luffy and Toriko are also able to damage the Akami whereas Goku needs his planet-busting Super Saiyan forms to do so. Hand Waved by showing Goku as the most powerful of the three (if only marginally so) and saying that he's already fought some creatures and saved the Earth immediately before these fights.
    • Toriko by its end was catching up to Dragon Ball Z levels of power, though it's primarily its three strongest characters which have established themselves at Saiyan Saga levels of power. With Jirou stopping the entire planet for a second with his knocking and Midora's Meteor Spice raining around everywhere. One Piece is far behind both in terms of power, with them not even on the level of Saiyan Saga Dragon Ball Z levels.
  • Digimon has a fair bit of this. In the general canon, there are six stages that Digimon pass throughnote , and Digimon are generally expected to be able to compete usually only with others at the same stage, with some vague implications of a continuity of power (with the significant hero and villain Digimon at the more powerful end) in each stage.
    • Some adaptations will show Digimon of a lower stage defeating those of a higher stage without justifying it as well as they should have.
    • Some Digimon have actually shifted up and down across stages, like Leomon shifting from a Champion to an Ultimate in some facets of the franchise.
    • Especially in play with non-standard Evolution mechanics, like Armor or Spirit Evolution.
    • Digimon Fusion abandons anything remotely resembling the standard mechanics in favor of a Combining Mecha system, with an exponential increase in power for every ingredient added, regardless of the power of the actual ingredient.
    • One of the bigger points of contention about Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Who Leapt Through Time. The past leaders from all the other anime seasons show up and take place in a key battle. Of course some of the Digimon, like the aforementioned Omnimon and Susanoomon (who's a whole tier above planet busting ) really should make most of the other characters irrelevant and ended the fight in seconds. They don't get to do much.
  • A crossover between Fairy Tail and Rave Master handles this by setting up the characters to imply that it's taking place fairly early in both stories, meaning none of the characters are too particularly powerful when they start to fight.
  • The Pretty Cure All Stars movies hit this big time, especially with DX 2 and DX 3, seeing as Tsubomi and Hibiki, respectively in each movie, lament their uselessness over their seniors. New Stage and New Stage 2, however, avert this. Miraculous Magic ends up making this a Deconstructed Trope as the Maho Girls Pretty Cure! end up majorly depressed when they're overrun by watered down former Big Bads and their seniors can easily overwhelm them.
  • Largely averted in Attack on Avengers, the Attack on Titan/The Avengers crossover. The titans are on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle, which, despite the dominance they display in their own series, is exactly what would happen to them when faced with Marvel's mightiest heroes. However, a notable exception comes in the form of the Colossal Titan; while the comic ends before it actually joins the battle, its size is vastly upgraded from the series; its official height is 60m, or about 196ft. Here, it's shown absolutely towering over the Statue of Liberty, which stands 93m/305ft.
  • This is a criticism of Pokémon: The Series. Every new region seems to reset Pikachu's power to a lower level so Ash can have fair fights with newbie trainers, even though Pikachu has fought much stronger foes before. Whether they try to explain it or just handwave it aside depends on how serious the tone of the season is. XY averts this, as Ash would have beaten Clemont if Team Rocket hadn't interfered and SM has Pikachu only losing friendly contests and other than that, it's made clear at at least two points, Ash's team is even stronger than Kiawe's team of Charizard, Turtonator and Alolan Marowak and Journeys has Ash and his team beating Leon to become the strongest trainer in the world.
  • This is prevalent in the various crossovers of works by Kazuma Kamachi (A Certain Magical Index, Heavy Object, The Zashiki Warashi of Intellectual Village, The Unexplored Summon://Blood-Sign, A Simple Survey etc.). These settings all have drastically different power levels, with Heavy Object completely lacking any supernatural powers. A notable offender is the first crossovernote , in which Othinus (a Magic God from A Certain Magical Index) briefly holds off but is eventually driven away by Odin (a god from The Circumstances Leading to Waltraute's Marriage). Magic Gods are capable of reshaping the entire universe to their whims, while gods of the latter setting never do anything on this level.
  • In the various Mazinger Z and Getter Robo crossovers, this doesn't seem too necessary, as the two robots tend to operate on pretty similar scales of power. However, the tallest Mazinger mech, the Grendizer, is 30 meters tall (with most being much smaller), while the shortest Getter mech, the Getter-1, is 38—in the interests of not making the Mazinger family of robots look like a bunch of hobbits, most crossovers illustrate the Getter mech and the Mazinger mech as being around the same size.

    Comic Books 
  • This tends to lead to major issues when crossing the Marvel Universe and The DCU. Both companies have their share of characters ranging from Badass Unintentionals to Physical Gods, but the Earth-Based Marvel characters who are the most important in terms of both in-universe esteem and recognition and Real Life Popularity Power tend to be low on power levels in-universe compared to their DC counterparts, like Superman. This tends to lead to huge disproportionate power levels between the universes, at least when using the biggest names between the two, which tends to translate to stories that are mostly buildup to a bigger fight that can be used to muddle the individual fighters. One-on-ones are hit/miss; verses need buildup to get the weaker fighter either up to, or bringing the other down. Team-ups need stories where the more powerful will miss something important and therefore need the other to play the savior/tactician role. Fans are rarely happy with any outcome, even when they themselves were the ones voting on the outcome.
    • Marvel have been countering this by making their heavyweights, such as Thor, who was already roughly equal to Superman at the time of JLA/Avengers, and Magneto (who can now do things like pull Kitty Pryde out of planet destroying bullets from light years away and easily fly decommissioned aircraft carriers from San Diego to San Francisco, then drop them on human sized objects with pinpoint accuracy) even stronger. Moreover, they're making them smarter, in the case of the Green Scar personality of the Hulk. And they're creating new heavyweights (e.g. The Sentry, who puts even a souped-up Thor to shame and even while weakened, stalemated Green Scar), and Hope Summers, who, under the right circumstances, could take the entire JLA at full power.
      • Ironically, the much less popular Doctor Strange in his classic days could've wiped the floor with Superman and most other DC characters at full power. Strange was so powerful Marvel had to Nerf him in the comics as he had the power to destroy dimensions and even knock Galactus on his ass. Though even when he's not as strong as he used to be, Strange is still ridiculously powerful, like in World War Hulk where he gives the titular jolly green giant a run for his money.
    • Another appropriate point is that most of Marvel's hyperweight characters tend to be in their cosmic stable, which usually stays a long way away from Earth, meaning they don't get involved in intercontinuity crossovers, or tend to be psychics (who are particularly vulnerable to this trope). In other words while DC may have the Kryptonians, Marvel has heavy cosmic hitters like Silver Surfer, Thanos and of course Galactus to boot.
    • This is always a problem in Marvel vs. DC crossovers when it comes to Super-Speed battles. Marvel speedsters rarely move much faster than the speed of sound, while DC speedsters are usually closer to the speed of light, a difference of six orders of magnitude (the difference between you and a jet is two orders of magnitude). Sometimes this difference is ignored, sometimes it's mocked, and sometimes it's justified.
      • Two crossover battles shown between Quicksilver and The Flash were played for the jokes that they were. The only times Quicksilver was able to land a punch were when The Flash turned his back to help innocents (in Marvel Versus DC) and, in the later crossover, when The Flash encountered Quicksilver in the Marvel universe (which apparently has no Speed Force) and a gleeful Quicksilver thrashed him (in JLA/Avengers). Sadly, if they had just done the first fight a few years sooner or a few years later, it might have been a more even match (Wally's speed was dropped to Quicksilver level in the years immediately following Crisis on Infinite Earths, and during Siege, Quicksilver was outrunning radio signals, meaning that he was going FTL).
      • There was actually a Shout-Out to the enormous disparity in an issue of Quasar. A cosmic entity had gathered Earth's super-speedsters for a race from Earth to the Moon. At the last minute, all the contestants got blown past by an amnesiac man in a tattered red-and-yellow costume whose garbled name is given as 'Buried Alien'. It was, all in all, a rather sweet tribute to Barry - though Marvel being Marvel, they also snuck in a jab at DC's then new Post-Crisis continuity with 'Buried Alien' saying that he didn't really like what little he remembered of what was going on in his own world. (This was back when Barry Allen was still dead, after the Crisis on Infinite Earths.)
    • One notorious example of this happened in the Marvel Versus DC crossover, where based on a fan poll, Wolverine beat Lobo. As Wolverine had bone claws at the time while Lobo is as powerful as Superman, this should have been impossible. The comic sidestepped the problems by not showing the battle — in fact the whole thing was less than a page, from the introduction of Lobo to Wolvie standing and dusting off his hands. And all the fighting happened behind a bar. It was later implied in Lobo's own comic that the Main Man was paid under the table to throw the fight.
    • Marvel vs. DC also had Storm besting Wonder Woman. Storm admittedly has the power to control the weather on an epic scale, so her defeating Wonder Woman honestly wouldn't have been the most outlandish stretch, if they hadn't actually shown her shrugging off a punch from Wonder Woman. (For reference, Storm's pretty toned for what is essentially a baseline human, while Wonder Woman is more on par with planet-punchers like Superman.)
    • JLA/Avengers, to fix the imbalance between the Justice League and the generally less powerful Avengers, establishes that some characters have different power levels depending on which universe they're in. So in The DCU, the higher levels of "chaos magic" make second-tier Avenger Scarlet Witch powerful enough to take down the whole Justice League, while in the Marvel Universe, the lack of a "speed force" makes the Flash nothing more than an ordinary human.
      Flash: She gets to be psycho-powerful over here, but I've got no powers over there? How fair is that?
      • The series also noted that while the power level of the heroes were lower in the Marvel Universe, the artifacts the Marvel heroes dealt with were far more dangerous (such as the Ultimate Nullifier).
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: In an extreme example, minor villain Mano has an origin story in which he uses his disintegrating touch to destroy his entire homeworld and everyone on it simply by placing his hand on the planet's surface. However, he was never even remotely that powerful in any of his actual appearances, where plenty of characters can survive zaps from his hand. He's actually one of the weaker members of the Fatal Five.
  • Spider-Man:
    • On comic boards this trope is often colloquially referred to as "Spider-Man vs. Firelord", as in The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #270, Spider-Man, who's among the strongest street-level characters in canon (lifts fifty tons at his peak), but still not considered one of the big hitters of the Marvel Universe, physically beats the cosmically powerful Firelord in a hand to hand duel, with the cosmic alien not even able to land a blow on Spidey. Sure, Spidey often holds back, but the fact that he's able to damage Firelord should make him strong enough to crack New York State in half - suffice to say no Spider-Man story has ever portrayed his strength as on that level. Bonus points for Firelord somehow being knocked around by a gas explosion - in general, the story seems to think he's a fire guy who's merely a fair bit stronger than Spidey, rather than a fire guy who can casually fly through stars or conquer and destroy worlds with even the slightest effort.
    Spider-Man: He used to be the Herald of Galactus, for Pete's sake, he could've killed me!
    Captain America: Considering his power, you did pretty well.
    • Then again, when Spider-Man fights the Silver Surfer, he tends to smack him around pretty well; he often fights beyond his limits - unless he is Cosmic Spider-Man, in which he had no limits.
    • The same can be said for the likes of Wolverine or Captain America as well. Sometimes, Wolverine Publicity does that with characters who are popular but not very powerful.
    • What some consider a modern example of the above is the fight between Miles Morales and Blackheart. For reference, Blackheart is in the same league as the likes of Firelord, being the son of Mephisto himself (basically Satan of the Marvel Universe). Earlier in that fight, Blackheart effortlessly beat the Avengers offscreen, including powerhouses like The Vision, Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, She-Hulk and freaking Thor (the Jane Foster version, but still) with only the Sam Wilson Captain America left standing (how he managed to outlast such powerhouses against Blackheart could be another example). With only Miles left standing, he uses his Venom Blast to achieve victory, hitting him so hard that Blackheart can no longer fight and falls unconscious. Even in-universe, Miles regards this as a fluke win, as if to hang a lampshade on it. Granted, at least unlike the Spidey vs. Firelord fight, Miles did take some hits and had to use Cap's invulnerable shield to protect himself, so there's that.
    • Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man had Lex Luthor shoot Spidey with a "red-sun energy boost", making Big Blue vulnerable to his touch, i.e., Spidey being able to beat Supes like a beach ball. However once the energy wears off, it’s clear who has the upper hand. The follow up crossover with Superman and Spider-Man is more realistic. Superman brushes off Spider-Man's offers of assistance at first believing that Spidey would just get in the way. Spidey is about to leave, also believing he wouldn't be any help to Superman until he remembers that Superman might be flying into a trap and follows after to warn him.
    • This happens a lot to Spider-Man. In preparation for Civil War, he had "The Other" story arc, which tied his powers to a mystical spider-totem. This gave him a major attribute boost and several new powers, ranging from enough speed and strength to catch bullets to spike weapons which protruded from his arms. This was done so that when he became a fugitive at the end of Civil War, he could feasibly fight off (and beat) more powerful heroes like Iron Man. Unfortunately, nobody bothered using Spider-Man's upgrades from "The Other" except Peter David (and Chris Yost during his Scarlet Spider run), so the storyline might as well not have happened. The only aspect of the story that anyone else bothered using was the Iron Spider suit.
    • A Double Subversion when Spider-Man crossed over into the original Marvel Transformers comics for an issue. He did succeed in wrapping Megatron in webbing... but it only lasted a few seconds before Megatron busted free and swatted him aside like, well, a bug.
    • This happened again during the Transformers' crossover with the New Avengers. Heroes like Captain America, Wolverine, and The Falcon were regulated to distractions or rescue work, while Iron Man used a Humongous Mecha, to just blast Megatron with his normal repulsors after his Mecha got destroyed.
    • Another crossover had a Venom/Superman fight in which Venom was smacking Supes around like a ragdoll. Not only is Superman way above Venom's level, but he also has powers (heat beams and supersonic voice) that are Venom's stated weaknesses. The writer tried to justify this by having Venom exclaim, "I've gone toe-to-toe with the Juggernaut!", which is frankly even harder to believe.
    • Despite the subversions with Spider-Man, his two biggest interactions with Thanos (a villain who is much, much stronger than Firelord or Megatron) have involved: webbing his eyes and kicking his face in The Infinity War and in a later comic, Spidey slugs Thanos right in front of Death and he mostly gets away with it. Spider-Man even lampshades it when he complains to Mary Jane about a simple mugger having the guts to attack him.
  • JLA/Avengers:
    • One panel shows a quick gag of DC's Captain Marvel and Marvel's Captain Mar-Vell switching off against their respective adversary, with Marvel punching out Ronan the Accuser while Mar-Vell punches out Black Adam. Captain Marvel taking down Ronan is pretty believable, but Mar-Vell's level of super strength is nowhere near on par with the Big Red Cheese, and while he has other powers, he was only punching in that panel, while Black Adam is one of the strongest villains in the DCU, having taken down Superman-level characters. Then again, Rule of Funny.
    • The finale worked with this by having the JLA's cape, Superman, fighting on the front lines wielding Thor's hammer and Captain America's shield, while the Avengers' cape Captain America used his tactical skills to direct everyone else in the battle, allowing him to contribute without trying to handwave the fact that he's nowhere near Superman-levels of power. This was also played with earlier when the two teams were fighting each other; Cap was pitted against Batman, who he is much more evenly matched with (Batman grudgingly conceded, after the two tested each other, that while they were matched for skill, Cap's enhanced physique would give him the advantage in a prolonged fight).
  • Batman: Batman has appeared for decades simultaneously both in his own series, struggling against fairly normal muggers and crooks, and in Justice League of America, battling cosmic foes like Darkseid. This has been dealt with in various ways over the years, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. The default Silver Age solution seemed to be using the Bat-Anti-Cosmically-Powered-Villain Spray, while the default Modern Age solution tends toward emphasizing his willpower and intelligence, often in a Mission Control role.
    • In 2002, it was announced that there was a Batman vs. Superman film in the works (like most Superman-related projects, it ultimately ended up in Development Hell and was abandoned... though another project eventually emerged with the Dark Knight vs. the Man of Steel.), which provoked great uproar in the fan community about the inherently one-sided nature of such a conflict. Conan O'Brien put it best, saying "Superman is, well, Superman. He can fly, lift cars, shoot lasers from his eyes, go back in time, all that. Batman... Batman works out a lot." Though in that script, Batman used his Crazy-Prepared-ness intelligently, with Kryptonite armor and arrows, and a sonic whistle to paralyze Superman due to the latter's super-hearing. Though in the Batman: Hush storyline, Batman DOES wind up fighting the Man of Steel, who is under Poison Ivy's control due to kryptonite added to her mind-control lipstick. He still might have little chance in a straight fight (and states that his hand would break before Superman's jaw did), but in that story, he does manage to fight off Superman long enough to break him out of the trance. At one point, Batman states that he would have long been dead if Superman hadn't been resisting Ivy's control.
      • A similar thing happens in The Batman, where Supes is again under mind control (this time by Ivy's Mind Control Spores laced with Kryptonite dust). Batman not only cheats, he tries using a chunk of Kryptonite stolen from Lex Luthor, and when that doesn't work, he evens the odds a little by breaking out his Bat-Mecha and is still on the verge of losing, but Robin breaks Superman out of the trance. Unlike in Hush, there was no indication that Superman was fighting the mind control, despite moving very slowly and never actually trying to kill Batman.
      • Batman v. Superman largely got its start in Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Batman gears up all the way, breaks out all his reserve equipment, the story takes place right after Superman almost dies, and it is made clear that Superman is unwilling to try to kill Batman. It ends with Batman in a position where he can win, and instead, he fakes his own death.
      • In the end, however, the success rate for Batman's Crazy-Prepared-ness depends on a lot of good luck and calculations working out the way he planned it. And Superman is still a guy who can kill you by looking at you. None of the explanations and scenarios laid out by any writer for a Batman victory will be one hundred percent convincing.
      • Superman/Batman #78 featured two kids having a Hypothetical Fight Debate between the two heroes. They immediately agree that Batman can't use Kryptonite, but to compensate, the fight can't be lethal - since if Superman were to use lethal force, he'd just punch Batman's head off in the first three seconds.
    • In JLA Confidential, Grant Morrison lampshades this by giving Batman "the sci-fi closet" with all the toys for trans-galactic threats. "Did my flying saucer arrive from the factory?"
    • In JLA Classified, Warren Ellis justifies this with an observation that exotic radiation detectors are not especially useful for stopping muggers or tracking down Killer Croc in the sewers, so Batman has some tools that are useless unless he is facing a JLA-level threat.
    • Scott Snyder did a good job handling this trope with Batman: Endgame, as thanks to Joker's toxin, the entire Justice League (Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash & Aquaman) go and attack Batman. Fortunately Bruce has prepared for this moment so instead of being crushed into paste, he brings out the Justice Buster suit, which is able to handle this situation as the suit has countermeasures for all the League heavy hitters including those not present like Cyborg or Black Canary. But even with the suit, Batman is nearly crushed by Joker-controlled Superman, and has to resort to Kryptonite gum, which is hidden inside his cowl. Batman even tries to answer the question of who wins: Superman or Batman?
      Batman: The answer is always the same - neither of us.
    • Though this comic isn't totally sound as Wonder Woman starts the battle by attacking Batman when he's just Bruce Wayne with no Powered Armor; how Batman survives getting his head smashed into the ground by a Demi-Goddess is a good question.
    • In the early days, Batman used to struggle against Deathstroke, a Teen Titans villain. While Batman might be able to put up a good fight, Deathstroke's superhuman strength, combined with all his other enhanced attributes, were just far too much for Bruce. The only times he was able to defeat Deathstroke were the times he had backup or Slade was distracted/weakened somehow. Nowadays, particularly in the New 52/Rebirth era, Batman has gotten much better at fighting Deathstroke to the point where he's shown outright defeating or getting the upper hand over Slade multiple times despite only being a peak human while Deathstroke is at minimum a low level superhuman.
  • The Punisher: This is particularly bad in comics where the Punisher is the central character, especially as of lately. A What If? was even written where Punisher managed to take out people like Magneto and Thor.
    • The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe. On the other end of the scale, he teamed up with Archie.
      • In pretty much all the ...kills the Marvel Universe series, the protagonist uses a variety of tricky methods to take out nigh-immortal characters like Hulk (shoot him through the eye, wait until he's transformed into Banner) and Wolverine (atomic charged fence that melts him to the bone), which is fine... except that these methods are shown specifically *not* to work in their regular comic (Hulk is more vulnerable in the eye socket but can heal from it, and Banner Hulks out as a fail safe when he's being killed, Wolverine can heal from literally being melted down to the skeleton, etc).
  • Lobo: Lobo's been mentioned a few times already, but he deserves some special attention. He has a noted knack for being just as powerful as whomever he's fighting. He's gone toe to toe with Superman in the past, but has also lost fights to Batman and other characters. It's to the point that his adaptable nature is actually part of his power set; one of his most notable features is his immune system, making him invulnerable to specific powers after being hurt by them at least once (the most prominent moment is when he's trapped in the body of a 'tweenager version of himself, because after being hit with the spell that de-aged him he immediately became immune to that type of magic, and thus counterspells wouldn't work). And while he is invulnerable and immortal, he can still get drunk (at least in earlier appearances, he gets so sloshed that Superman turns it to his advantage in one early battle).
  • In the Alien vs. Predator franchise, the Predators can take out Aliens in hand-to-hand combat with ease. This is strange because they only had one film appearance at the time — in Predator — where the monster only fought in hand-to-hand once. While it was certainly strong, it wasn't that impressive, with a shirtless Dutch (who is admittedly a pretty tough guy, but still just a human) able to hold his own against it for some time. This is in contrast to the Aliens, which routinely gutted their opponents like fish in single blows, even ones wearing body armor. This example is unique because the Alien and Predator monsters arguably began as interestingly balanced — an unstoppable melee death-machine versus an invisible, cybertribal sniper —, but the Predators were given a large boost to serve the purpose the creators wanted for the comic, that being Anti-Heroism.
  • Solomon Grundy suffers from this a lot. In some comics, he is able to knock Superman around, while in other comics, Batman is able to defeat him. This is written into his character, where he has Resurrective Immortality, and his level of strength and intelligence is pretty much random in between his rebirths.
  • Freedom Fighters: In The '70s Phantom Lady's power was increased from creating darkness, to invisibility and teleporting herself and the team. The last one fluctuated in the comics and in a lot of subsequent experiences as it was a Game Changer, that let them all get out of jail free. Her appearances out of Freedom Fighters have rarely brought up teleportation at all.
  • Teen Titans antagonist Deathstroke also suffers from this. He can be portrayed as someone who can hold his own against members of the Justice League, and be able to knock out the Flash, but also struggle against someone like Nightwing.
    • Although, given that Nightwing is essentially Batman-in-waiting, this could be a case of Nightwing rising to the challenge rather than Deathstroke getting a demotion. It also helps that Nightwing is more familiar with Deathstroke than probably any other hero...
    • Also, he's basically the evil Batman (to the point that one popular fan theory for his true nature in Teen Titans was that Slade really was Batman, testing Robin.) With the wide variety of tools he uses, it's most likely that he simply comes prepared for whatever foe he's facing. Which means he should go after Nightwing when armed for the whole Justice League and kill bird-boy in two seconds flat, but... well, that's not how it works in comicland.
      • But when it's Lex Luthor fighting toe to toe with Deathstroke now this trope is in full effect, especially since Lex dislikes physically fighting his foes and treats it as a last resort.
  • Fables: This is actually done in-universe - when Frau Totenkinder faces Baba Yaga, the latter seems confident in her victory, because everybody knows her stories, and so her Popularity Power is great. Frau Totenkinder points out to her that Popularity Power is just a theory among fables, and not one that Totenkinder herself sets much store by, and then proceeds to thrash Baba Yaga. Word of God is that Popularity Power may be some kind of factor in determining the power of a fable, but that the truth is more complicated than just that.
    • The later-seen origins of Frau Totenkinder reveals that while Baba Yaga might be better known by name, Totenkinder herself is better known, period. As she's actually THE witch from most of the better known Fables.
      • Ironically Baba Yaga despite setting herself up on a high level, is beheaded by Bufkin one of the flying monkeys from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  • Any given Crisis Crossover will be rife with this. The need to use as many characters as possible often leads to some crowd filler being far stronger than the main villain. The original Crisis on Infinite Earths, for instance, has the theoretically-omnipotent elemental transmuter Firestorm being forced to a stalemate by The Penguin's trick umbrella, or the obscure cosmic villain Maaldor the Darklord, who created universes and once held his own against the entire Green Lantern Corps, getting killed in one hit by Krona. The strength of the Anti-Monitor's shadow demons generally hits the exact amount needed to give their opponent a tough fight in swarms, whether it's Alan Scott or Oliver Queen.
  • In the X-Men/Teen Titans crossover Apokolips Now, this trope is entirely averted; the two teams operate on similar scales and power levels already, and they're not in conflict for most of the story, so no adjustments are needed.
  • Fantastic Four: During the first appearance of the Super-Skrull in Fantastic Four (1961), Reed Richards figured out that the alien villain, who had all of the powers of the Fantastic Four, was having his power beamed to him remotely from the Skrull homeworld, based on the reasoning that no single being could inherently have so much power. This was quickly forgotten, however, as far more powerful beings than the Super-Skrull were introduced, and later on said villain's powers did become inherent, not requiring any kind of external power source.
  • Watchmen: Doctor Manhattan was extremely powerful, but he wasn't truly omnipotent. He was as impressive as he was because he was a Person of Mass Destruction in a world where the second strongest character is a somewhat impressive Badass Normal, and there were some limitations on what he could and couldn't do. Even his full power wouldn't be enough to stop a lot of airborne nukes (though he'd take out a good percentage of them). In DC Rebirth, to facilitate his involvement in the plot, he's shown accomplishing feats more in the range of "universe-busting", and handling people who could have solved the Cold War by simply blinking an eye and turning the Soviet Union into a chinchilla.
  • The Spectre: The Spectre is somewhat notorious for being Strong As He Needs To Be, since in his own comics, he lands pretty deep into Story-Breaker Power. In crossovers or JSA stories, he's often given heavy limitations or misdirected to stop him from ending the story in five seconds, or just shown doing stuff about on the level of a standard magic hero (flying in and blasting stuff, when he's a Reality Warper).
  • Captain America: Captain America subjects his opponents to this trope a lot. Supposedly, he's "barely superhuman". As in, his superhuman abilities are the peak of non-superhuman potential, but all at once. This should make him just an extra-competent Badass Normal in theory, in practice, however, not so much. He's been written as being able go far beyond what any normal person, peak or no, should be able to do, and that includes defeating people who are far above his weight class. Not only have full-on superhumans such as Spider-Man, Wolverine, Beast and Gambit lost to him, but he's even given heavyweights such as Namor, Hulk and even Thor a run for their money, still coming out on top in the end. Being loved by the writers can do wonders.
  • X-Men:
    • An interesting example is Hank McCoy, aka The Beast. If you pick up a comic in which he is in the X-Men, the writers tend to focus mostly on his intellect while his actual powers are secondary. When he was a member of The Avengers, his strength and agility were the main focus and his intellect was rarely brought up. This was because the Avengers had plenty of geniuses: Hank Pym, Iron Man, The Vision, Black Panther, etc. and didn't need another. McCoy was a Lightning Bruiser so his abilities were bumped up to the point where he was nearly as strong as Iron Man and could move so fast that Captain America had trouble following him. When he went back to the X-Men, there were already a couple strongmen (Colossus and Rogue) and agile people (Nightcrawler, Gambit, Longshot, etc.). Even his animalistic nature was covered by Wolverine. They didn't have any geniuses, though, so Beast became The Smart Guy nearly on the level of Reed Richards.
    • The effectiveness of Wolverine's Healing Factor has been subject to this. Originally, severe enough injuries could still put him out of action for a couple days or weeks, but he still healed faster than anyone. Now, he can bounce back from being practically burned down to his skeleton within a matter of hours (if not minutes), and it's been established that his healing factor extends to slowing down his aging, allowing him to live well past the age of 150. Then again, Days of Future Past (written back in 1980) showed him aging realistically, and even being killed in a future What If? scenario after taking a laser beam to the face from a Sentinel. His solo book once tried to rectify the inconsistencies by establishing that his rate of healing can be affected by the seriousness of his injuries; if he suffers too many injuries, it slows down accordingly. Part of this was due to a storyline where the toxic adamantium was stripped from his bones, meaning that for a couple years, his healing was now uninhibited and he could regenerate pretty much anything, at the cost of his invincible bones and cut-anything claws. Then the adamantium was added back in, but by that point writers had gotten used to writing him healing at that level and didn't adjust it back down.
    • The nature of X-23's trigger scent has become subject to this. As a child, Laura was conditioned (read: tortured) into entering a berserk rage whenever she smelled a particular scent, which would make her black out and tear apart whatever was marked with it. It served two purposes: Not only did it allow her creators a measure of control over her in the event she attempted to refuse to kill a target, but her berserk state also made her an even more deadly fighter. Usually it was reserved for high-value targets or otherwise special (such as the gangster Fade). By the time of Avengers Arena, the scent is now driving her into a state in which she'll kill everything around her, whether they're specifically marked or not.
    • Magneto gets hit with this depending on what side of the Heel–Face Revolving Door he's on. If he's evil, Magneto will be written as one of the most terrifying villains who ever lived, bordering on outright invincible. If he's good, Magneto's abilities get scaled back a lot for the sake of drama. However, there is a canonical reason for this, as excessive use of his abilities makes him bipolar - if he's using that much power, it's making him unstable, which he'd otherwise want to avoid. That being said, he's become much more consistent at the high end following his settling on the borderline of Anti-Villain and Anti-Hero (codified in Magneto: Not A Hero in 2011 with the line "The thing that none of you will ever understand is that there are no sides. There's no heroes or villains. There's just what I want and how I'll get it."). He specifically warns against assuming this in Not A Hero:
    You're foolish to think that because I have changed the methods in which I plan to achieve my goals that I am any less powerful.

    Fan Works 
  • In Tails of the Old Republic, Miles "Tails" Prower of Sonic the Hedgehog fame is much stronger and tougher here than is implied in the games or other media he regularly features in. It helps he's now 14 years old, up from his canonical age of 8, so he can more plausibly participate in the events of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. It's a good thing too, because he gets his ass handed to him on more than one occasion.
  • In The Swarm of War, when the Imperium encounters the Zerg for the first time, they are much easier to dispatch than one would expect from the earlier chapters. That’s because it’s a Lost Colony which lacks some of the upgrades.
  • In Infinity Crisis, Barry Allen soon observes upon arriving in Earth-199999 that his and Wally’s connection to the Speed Force is down to around three-quarters of his usual full potential; they're still fast, but they won't be able to travel in time.
  • This is averted in Son of Sparda D×D, as Dante far outclasses the Occult Research Club and almost all devils seen so far. The only characters within his league in the story are Bluehide, aka Vergil and Kokabiel, aka Modeus, both of whom are also from the Devil May Cry world.
  • Apotheosis (MHA) did this with the Infinity Gauntlet, nerfing it by making the one Izuku uses a replica he made himself, the stones being the crystalized forms of six different amalgamations of Quirks. While a very powerful tool, one that puts him on par with All Might and All For One, it's nowhere close to being as powerful as its comic book or film incarnations — which is deliberate, because if it was, there would be no story.
  • Ignored for the most part in The Mountain and the Wolf, where the Wolf manages to make himself useful enough that no one tries to put together the forces necessary to beat him:
    • The Wolf is a Hero Killer with the power to goad a specific enemy into attacking without benefit of bodyguards or tactical sense, his longship can teleport and fly and carry several dozen Norscan warriors, he has a sorcerer able to use Wrong Context Magic, and that's without getting into his Super-Strength and years of experience fighting similar monsters and fighters from the Warhammer world. As a result, he steamrolls through anything Westeros can throw at him, at least up until he meets the Night King. The only ones able to match him in a fight are the Night king, a supernaturally long-lived undead warrior, and Drogon, who is a dragon (although Wulfrik mentions that, compared to the dragon from his world, Drogon isn't even that powerful. Buuuuut...
    • Arya kills the Night King, so further difficulties are actually self-inflicted (he appears to let his sorcerer be executed and he teleports away, Euron running around the city was actually one of his men, the Iron Fleet threatening King's Landing is working for him and goes away at his command). Only until after the siege of King's Landing do things stop going his way with the death of Daenerys, but even then when he reappears it's to demand the armies of Westeros fight him for real. The only indication it won't be a one-sided fight are the Red Priests getting involved and showing they know a good deal about the Chaos gods.
  • Star Wars vs Warhammer 40K largely centers around a war between the Clone Wars-era Galactic Republic and the Imperium of Man. Due to a case of Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale, both Star Wars Canon and Legends have the Republic's Clone Army numbering in the single-digit millions. By contrast, the Imperial Guard alone normally fields trillions of active Guardsmen at any time (and these soldiers are actually competent, unlike the B1 Battle Droids cranked out by the Separatists). And while the Republic and Jedi are only fighting a small potion of the Imperium in this story, the Imperial forces they face still have armies numbering in the billions. As the author has pointed out in the eighth episode's after-talk segment, if these numbers were kept in the story, then the Republic would realistically get steamrolled as any battle involving ground forces would essentially be a lost cause for them barring miraculous circumstances. To give the Republic an actual fighting chance, the author chose to inflate the Clone Army's numbers to around 500 million clone troopers, claiming that anything less would just lead to an Overnight Conquest of the Republic.

    Film — Animated 
  • Justice League: War like the comic it was based on rather heavily avoids this trope as when Batman and Green Lantern meet Superman it's a complete humiliation with Superman just toying with them and shrugging off all of Batman's gadgets with only the supersonic annoying him slightly. The movie also skips the moment where Flash comes in and knocks Superman down a peg, so the power-scaling is very lopsided in the movie. Played straight earlier on where Batman not only steals the ring from Green Lantern but pushes him against the wall despite Hal Jordan having enough power to crush him. It's both a case of lavishing Batman and ripping into Green Lantern.
  • The Batman vs. Dracula did a good job avoiding this trope. Dracula easily outmatches Batman in speed, strength and even stealth and it takes an ultraviolet light machine to bring the Count down.
  • In The LEGO Movie, Superman, along with dozens of other powerful and iconic characters, suffer a Curb-Stomp Battle defending the local Heroes "R" Us against ordinary mooks and are all captured easily. Granted, the mooks had The Dragon and the element of surprise, but many individuals at the base would have barely blinked at a bunch of robots with laser guns, and were very clearly nerfed in order for the scene to play out the way it did. Of course, it's always possible that Lego Superman (for instance) never had the high level of power that Superman did. Also, the whole thing was in a child's imagination, anyway, so comparing it to canon is kind of pointless.
    • The LEGO Batman Movie brings this trope up when Batman meets Superman:
      Batman: Don't worry about it, dog, not here to throw down or anything.
      Superman: Ah... no, I would, I would crush you.
      Batman: Pfft, okay, yeah sure, sure.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • King Kong was enlarged several times his size and given electricity powers to match Godzilla for their crossover fight in King Kong vs. Godzilla. Understandable, since Godzilla shrugs off autocannons, rockets, missiles, tank shells, and lasers, while King Kong got killed by a few biplanes with machine guns. Likewise, Godzilla, despite having shrugged off 300,000 volts of electricity in the original Godzilla: King of the Monsters!, was shown to be so vulnerable to electricity this time around that he shied away from ordinary power lines.note  This was most likely meant to make Godzilla particularly at risk from Kong's aforementioned new Lightning Paws. Which was ironically creeped up again in Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, when an electric storm revives the King of the Monsters, and expanded further when Godzilla's beam powers an electric super-weapon in Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster and generating a powerful magnetic field in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. So in short, Lightning Can Do Anything.
  • Notably, this trend continued in Godzilla vs. Kong. Kong was about 30 meters tall in Kong: Skull Island: certainly a Titan, and one of the largest King Kongs in film history, but Godzilla had been well-established as being four times as tall and broader in build, thus dozens if not hundreds of times as massive. In his own film, Godzilla also showed no reaction to being shot with cruise missiles and was only knocked out by being hit with a 15 megaton nuke (he was a good distance from ground zero, but still; the other kaiju he was fighting at the time in the prequel comic was instantly incinerated by the same energy despite being nearly as big of him and similarly resistant to conventional weaponry). For comparison, Kong in his movie was nearly killed by a handful of soldiers with C4 and napalm and was cut by both heavy machine gun fire and the rotor blades of a helicopter. Consequently, the film gave Kong an upscale and a proportional boost to durability and strength, with the justification that he's been growing (and tellingly, he's still the shorter of the two by a good ways). It's never explained why he got dozens of times bigger in just a few decades when the rest of his species, including his own parents, were around the same size as he was in Skull Island (as indicated by their skeletons), despite many presumably being much older than him. His archenemies that exterminated his entire species, the Skullcrawlers, were even smaller (including their leader Ramarak). And Kong still has to use tools to go toe-to-toe with Godzilla.
  • Alien vs. Predator:
    • In AVP: Alien vs. Predator, one Alien took out two Predators. Justified in the film because the Predators in question were only armed with spears and wrist blades made of metal that was not corrosion-resistant. The Predators also had to rely on applying blunt force trauma against the Aliens which were shown to be extremely tough and resistant to physical blows. When one Predator got hold of a shoulder cannon, the tables were immediately turned with scores of Aliens being blown to bits. Some viewers consider this to be retribution for the depiction of the Alien monster in the comics, while others consider it a spiteful blemish on the Predator. See the related example in the comics section above.
    • The second film inverts that change, calling on the comic-book example and reversing the situation in the previous movie. However, it should be noted that the Predators in the first AVP were rookies on a rite of passage, and the Predator in AVPR was an Ace among Predators.
    • In fact, this franchise in general alters the power scale to suit the needs of the plot and setting, although the Predator almost always gets the better deal. It does conflict with the Alien movies themselves, invariably making it an example of this trope.
  • A repeated offense in the Kamen Rider series, starting with Kamen Rider (Skyrider). Every new Rider will likely trounce their predecessors and/or their greatest foes in a fight, before getting the same treatment by their successors. Worse, the Showa Riders will often lose to their successors in base form, despite almost each being a Lightning Bruiser in their own series. note 
    • Several Kamen Rider movies take all this Up to Eleven, starting with Kamen Rider Decade: Even if we leave aside the Decade half of Movie Wars 2010 and consider "Decade Fury" a completely new and all-powerful form capable of One-Hit KO-ing all other Riders, there's still Shadow Moon. While Shadow Moon is among the strongest characters in Kamen Rider BLACK, and its sequel, his alternate counterpart from All Riders vs. Dai-Shocker was so powerful the combined might of Rising Ultimate Kuuganote  and Decadenote  couldn't scratch him. Then Kamen Rider Double easily beats him. This should rightfully make Double literally strong enough to destroy the world with one Rider Kick in his base form. Needless to say... he isn't.
    • Movie Wars 2010 has Double's power at sane levels, but its villain gets the Shadow Moon treatment: The original Doras was a highly significant threat, but still reasonably beatable in the movie Kamen Rider ZO. Decade's Doras easily clobbered all Decade, his friends, and the A.R. Riders from Kuuga through Kiva in their base forms all at once and they don't beat him until all ten Riders go Super Mode, with Den-O and Kuuga breaking out Super Climax and Rising Ultimate. If this is what it takes to beat Doras, the latter would go from being slightly stronger than one Rider to "multiverse threat" territory. Take the movies at face value, and the Power Levels would be as follows: Doras > Double in basic forms > Shadow Moon > Decade > Everybody else ever. That is... not reflected in the series, to put it mildly.
  • This trope is in full effect in The Avengers, and a few of the other Marvel Cinematic Universe films. The Incredible Hulk, fitting the comics, is wildly inconsistent across the movies in terms of what he can take, which fits the nature of his character in that his strength is dependent on how angry and in control he is. In his first movie, he was knocked out by concrete block being thrown at his at a few dozen m/s and was at least hurt by grenade rounds. The Hulk in The Avengers, on the other hand, shows only annoyance to being shot by aircraft-mounted cannon; it takes Thor to give him a serious challenge and only a concentrated barrage by over a dozen Chitauri aircraft are even able to give him a bloody nose. Even falling from the Helicarrier at terminal velocity only knocks him out and reverts him to Bruce Banner.

    Live-Action TV 
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look parodies this with Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit. Angel Summoner can summon hordes of invisible, superhuman angels at will. BMX Bandit is very good at riding his BMX. He starts complaining that Angel Summoner's powers make him completely superfluous.
  • Happens several times in crossovers between Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, starting with the Samurai Sentai Shinkenger/Kamen Rider Decade crossover. In Shinkenger, the Monsters of the Week have 2 lives, a human sized one and a giant sized one. In the crossover, one of these monsters gets his hands on a transformation trinket and transforms in an evil Kamen Rider. This erases his second giant sized life, likely because most Kamen Rider do not have giant mecha readily available.
  • Spoofed in Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger, where a Monster of the Week who had previously been delivering a Curb-Stomp Battle, before setting off an Event Flag which signifies his downfall. As Akagi states, consistent power levels do not exist in Sentai.
  • In Ultraman vs. Kamen Rider, Kamen Rider 1 spontaneously gains the ability to grow so he can stand against a giant kaiju as an equal to Ultraman.
  • Super Sentai and Power Rangers.
    • This applies every time a new team teams up with an old team, since the old team at this point has already unlocked its full potential, so logically they should be more powerful and skilled than the new ones that are usually in the middle of the season, but for the convenience of the script, both teams are shown as being at the same power level.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Happens from time to time in the WWE and other promotions; where characters who are being pushed have power creep, and those who are acting as jobbers have power seep. For instance, Big Show used to fit the role of the big guy who always lost to up-and-coming stars, then with little explanation, became the man who ended Brock Lesnar's title reign. Often combined with Badass Decay for the people who are jobbing.
    • It's even funnier when the "C-show" ECW was still on. The ECW champion can be treated as a worthy opponent to the other champions or as effective as a jobber, depending on the storyline needs.
    • It's especially noticeable in the Divas division. Due to very limited TV time, only the current champion and current challenger get wins. Combine this with a small roster and you can have someone coming off a title reign consistently losing to people she was beating regularly a few months before.
    • This was VERY noticeable in the days of the-then WWF's national expansion, where talents that were monsters in their native territories where suddenly jobbers on WWF TV.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Old World of Darkness suffered dearly from this trope, because each gameline was made on its own without crossovers in mind. Vampire: The Masquerade establishes that vampires are in deep, deep trouble if they encounter werewolves. And indeed, when Werewolf: The Apocalypse made werewolves playable, they were just that strong against vampires. Vampires were also helpless before mages, because they were not considered as living and so did not cause Paradox, which was the main limiter on a mage's spells. Crossovers were a chore to work at the best of times, as the races were on (sometimes radically) different power levels. This power gap decreased as the franchise went on, with vampires stated to have their own advantages over werewolves and mages and the aforementioned advantages werewolves and mages had against vampires being toned down if not removed entirely (for example, later editions stated that all supernaturals had inate resistances to a mage's magic). Its reboot Chronicles of Darkness simplifies and streamlines power levels, and puts all the various supernatural creatures on an even playing field (and ordinary humans only a little below).
  • Solars in Exalted curb-stomp just about everything in their own setting, given an equal amount of experience points. The Player Character are meant to be a superhuman heroes, but there are many other playable character types, and the difficulty of having a mixed party without the Solars outshining everyone else is a cause of much aggravation among fans.
  • The Rogue Trader and Deathwatch role-playing games are based on the same rules as those of Dark Heresy, and there are rules for including characters from Dark Heresy in both systems. In the case of Rogue Trader, this involves boosting the characters from Dark Heresy to about 1/3rd of their maximum obtainable power in their home rules system. In the case of Death Watch, it involves boosting said characters to a level more powerful than the core Dark Heresy ruleset has rules for, and using the Ascension splatbook. In both cases the Dark Heresy characters are still overall weaker, but far more customizable and specialized.
    • Essentially, their stats are lower, true, but they tend to have far, far more raw skill and talent due to Dark Heresys very cheap skills and Ascensions cheap paragon talents/skills (essentially a collection of related skills purchased as a package that costs less than the skills combined). And that doesn't count the raw level of influence that these characters can have, which is hard to really quantify. And that doesn't count the Ascended Psychic Powers, which all Ascension classes can get with the right talents... such as being able to control time, or creating a completely and utterly impenetrable barrier able to withstand all types of damage and prevent all creatures from going through it. Even more mundane ones such as bloodboil or the army-destroying Inferno, or being able to utterly crush and banish daemons with a thought. Likely only the Grey Knights in Daemonhunters have more powerful psychic powers.
    • The Warhammer 40,000 meta-verse has this pretty bad throughout, but most players don't really bat an eye once they realize each codex is filled with in-universe propaganda.
  • This trope was at least partially the downfall of the anime CCG Ani-Mayhem. The base set used Ranma ½, Tenchi Muyo!, Bubblegum Crisis, and El-Hazard: The Magnificent World. So far so good. The first expansion set had Project A-Ko, Dominion Tank Police, Phantom Quest Corp., and Armitage III. No problem here. The second expansion set? Dragon Ball Znote . The sheer power imbalance between both heroes and villains made it so there was little to no point to using any of the other characters, since the effort it took to bring them up to DBZ's level could have been better spent making the DBZ characters even stronger. Which is kind of ironic, as Tenchi Muyo! tends to have characters that are far stronger than just about any Dragon Ball character.
  • The Dragon Ball Super Trading Card Game, meanwhile, uses this trope for competitive balance. It has characters from across the franchise, from Dragon Ball to Dragon Ball Super, and despite the wildly fluctuating power levels between those eras, every deck has characters of roughly the same statistical power for a given cost.

    Video Games 
  • Happens in crossover titles in video games as well, as evidenced in Capcom crossover games. This is something of a necessity; how else could you expect Dan Hibiki or Sakura to fight, say, the Hulk or Doctor Doom without having a serious upgrade in strength? (Dan, of course, doesn't have a chance even with the upgrade, but he's a Joke Character anyway.) The concept was (lovingly) mocked in a segment on X-Play where Blair Butler took a look back at the Marvel vs. Capcom series, noting in each game the number of fighters, adding that "none of them would stand a chance against the Hulk"; while not completely true, it gets the point across.
    • It's even worse in the earlier games in the series, where freakin' Apocalypse and Onslaught were the final bosses, and yet the likes of Chun-Li and Ryu were able to take them down. Of course, Marvel vs. Capcom 3 ups the ante further with the Final Boss being Galactus.
    • While not as glaring, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite features Ultron. That would be the guy known for having a nearly-indestructible body made of adamantium (or vibranium, depending on the story), yet he's able to get his ass kicked by everyone else in the cast.
      • Discussed in this hilariously uber-nerdy Gamesradar video about how ridiculously Capcom overcompensated the power levels of their characters to match the Marvel characters on their character profile pages. While some of the featured Capcom characters are a lot stronger than many fans assume, if the official standards set down for reading the power charts and these levels are to be believed, Tron Bonne is an omniscient world-consuming Eldritch Abomination who crushes worlds with a flick of her pinky.
      • It seems that the dev team of the original Marvel vs. Capcom 3 didn't know how the ratings for the Marvel Power Grid should be issued for the Capcom characters (apparently believing that 4 was human average, when actually 2 is), so they've been changed to be more believable in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. For one example, Tron was originally issued a 7 in Intelligence. According to the rating system, a 7 in Intelligence means she's "Omniscient"... as in, like an all-knowing god. Capcom must have assumed it meant "really smart." Most likely, after reading about the ratings, Tron was issued a 6 in Intelligence (meaning "Super-Genius"), which makes more sense.
      • See this comparison. For example: In the Street Fighter games and Capcom vs. SNK 2, Ryu's Shinku Hadouken is just a larger-than-normal Hadouken. In the Marvel vs. Capcom games, it's reimagined as a massive Kamehameha-style energy beam. There are other Capcom characters who benefit, such as Wesker's superhuman speed and reflexes being interpreted as outright teleportation. In fact, a very subtle example comes from Morrigan, whose Soul Fist special move is actually the ES Special variant seen in her home series.
      • Then, there's the inclusion of Dormammu, Shuma-Gorath, and the like as playable characters. In their own continuities, they could just blink once and delete all of their opponents from existence. Which makes it kinda of funny when you see humans with no superpowers like Chris Redfield or Hawkeye beat the snot out of an ultra-powerful, reality-warping god.
      • Shuma-Gorath at least comes with a justification — he's fighting outside the Chaos Dimension where he's truly omnipotent. Presumably, this is how the other fighters can actually beat him.
      • Oddly, this trope is mostly avoided in the intro cutscenes, where the characters do seem to be about as strong as they are in canon. For instance, Magneto effortlessly stomps a group of characters with metal bodies, Doctor Doom has the cast of Street Fighter running for cover, and Chris Redfield seems to be struggling just to survive against the Hulk. The only crossover matchup that seems out-there is Deadpool managing to hold his own against Dante, but it's entirely in-character for Dante to hold back and toy with an opponent.
      • Phoenix Wright is now in the Vs. series as of UMvC3. He's a lawyer. An ordinary lawyer who's never been in an actual fight in his career, unless you count all the comedic abuse he's taken. He's actually a really good character, with attacks that look ridiculous and mundane (such as sneezing) but can devastate an opponent if used right, and his 'OBJECTION!' can trigger a Super Mode. His ultimate attack? "The real culprit... IS YOU!" In other words, he can defeat a world-destroying horror by providing evidence of guilt and giving it the pointer finger!
      • Character weaknesses can't be exploited in this series. For example, Venom is no weaker to fire-elemental attacks than any other character. In the comics, one of the symbiotes' major weaknesses are high temperatures. Sound vibrations are also another weakness of the symbiotes, but even with all of the loud sounds during battle, Venom isn't affected in the slightest by them.
      • If these games were more strict about characters' strengths and weaknesses during gameplay, optic blasts would be useless in Cyclops vs. Cyclops matches, no matter how powerful they are. They'd have to rely on martial arts. In the comics, Cyclops is resistant to his own powers. Similarly, Ghost Rider's Penance Stare works on any normal-sized character (i.e. everyone not named Galactus), regardless of if the character ever inflicted pain and suffering on an innocent. On the other hand, it would be useless against characters that have no soul like Sentinel and (arguably) Nemesis.
      • In MvC3, every character has special dialogue with a few other fighters, and these and the game's various trailers have established certain Marvel/Capcom matchups as being rivals. In the first edition of the game, the Hulk was considered rivals with Mike Haggar from Final Fight. A superhuman who can lift mountain ranges when sufficiently angry versus a middle-aged former pro wrestler who, on his best day, could flip a car. Needless to say, they had to fudge both character's power levels considerably to put them on even ground. The Ultimate edition of the game added Nemesis from Resident Evil, an eight-foot-tall indestructible zombie, a much more fitting rival for the Hulk.
    • The presence of Gold Lightan and the PTX-40A Vital Suit from Lost Planet in Tatsunoko vs. Capcom (both of whom are utterly massive) asked for a massive power creep to Alex (who is a grappler) as performing the Hyper Bomb on them can be translated as grabbing a giant robot's leg and effortlessly slamming him into the ground, including with an airborne drop. It has to be seen to be believed.
      • It has to be expected. The Final Boss is Yami, the God of Darkness, the Big Bad Final Boss of Ōkami.
      • Also done to especially, especially, especially Frank West. Whereas Alex did get the power creep, he could do that stuff against everybody, from his series or not. Frank, on the other hand, disregarding a few Street Fighter moves and a working Mega Buster, really is just a regular human. In Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, however, he can throw said giants to the other side of the screen, shoot them into the sky by way of hitting them with a baseball bat, and can survive the stronger hits of the game, most of which, in Real Life, would kill us normies. And in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, his arsenal of improvised weaponry (no Mega Buster and shooting people into the sky here) is more than a match for the superpowered beings of the Marvel Universe, and he can still tank hits.
      • Tekkaman Blade gets the short end of the trope. A guy who in his own series tanked a nuke. Note that this feat is done at the beginning of the series before he even gets numerous amount of power-ups and his Super Mode. Theoretically at least, the only Capcom fighter present who could fight him on even terms is Morrigan.
    • And then you have Project × Zone where you have quasi-realistic characters like Chris, Jill, Frank, and Akira fighting alongside fantasy-based characters like Morrigan, Ulala, KOS-MOS, and even Neneko.
  • The Final Fight characters such as Cody, Guy and Maki are noticeably more powerful when they appear in Street Fighter games than their own games. Of course if the characters had their Street Fighter abilities in the Final Fight series, the games would be pretty boring. The one exception to this is Final Fight 3, where all the player characters had access to a greatly expanded repertoire of attacks, though Guy's moveset is not 100% identical between FF3 and his Street Fighter appearances.
  • The Alien vs. Predator games — as with every other kind of media — are primes examples of this trope. Depending on the game and genre, the abilities of the Aliens and Predators can be vastly different.
    • In practically every game, especially those where Aliens are enemies only (like the Capcom brawler) Predators are more resilient than Aliens — despite the fact that Predators have been killed by falling logs and humans in melee combat, while Aliens have survived plasma thruster engines, the vacuum of space and tons of molten lead.
    • In the 1999 and 2010 games by Rebellion, Aliens have an easy time hiding in the shadows, but the 2001 Monolith game removes this ability from them. In addition, it severely neuters the effectiveness of their acid blood, reduces their health and simplifies their behaviour.
    • In the 1999 and 2010 games by Rebellion, the Predator's plasma caster is a lock-on, straight-shooting weapon that has variable degrees of power depending on charge. Monolith's 2001 game added the ability for those plasma blasts to turn in mid air.
    • In the 2001 Monolith game, Aliens dominated in melee combat. In the 1999 Rebellion game, melee combat in multiplayer was almost impossible due to the game speed (except for jousting) and Predators hold a melee advantage in the 2010 game.
    • For the sake of balance, player-controlled humans in the 2010 game can fight off both Aliens and Predators in hand-to-hand combat long enough to set them up for a volley of pulse rifle fire.
      • Another human example: the flamethrower. In the 2001 game, it was incredibly effective against Aliens. In the 1999 and 2010 games, it makes them explode — eventually. Until then, the Alien will continue trying to kill you — while on fire.
  • Another crossover title example is Jump Super Stars, its sequel Jump Ultimate Stars and its successor J-Stars Victory VS. Massive quantities of power nerfing and boosting must have happened for characters like Ryotsu from Kochikame, a regular human police officer, to fare well against monsters like Goku, Seiya, Ichigo, Luffy and Naruto just to name a fewnote , but in one way or another all of them are fighters, are capable of fighting or have Toon Physics in their respective universes. The worst offenders worth mentioning are the Assist Characters, mainly composed of comical/normal characters who in their universes do not have any fighting skills and/or are bound to "realistic" physics. They tend to be sports- or romance-themed, so it's kind of insane seeing cute girls tripping and falling over or hand-slapping the aforementioned monsters, hurting them and somehow temporarily disabling their assist characters. It reaches plain unfair levels when some are UNBLOCKABLE and hard to dodge.
  • Almost any video game where Superman is a playable character, especially fighting games and beat'em ups, in which the normally invulnerable Man of Steel can be killed by the first mook on the first level. Justice League Heroes at least started the game with killer robots, and moved up from there.
    • JL Heroes at least lampshaded it a bit with Supes' block animation. He sticks out his chest when you hit the button, and of course, enemy attacks do no damage as long as you hold it down.
    • Superman Returns actually gave Superman the kind of power seen in comics; he was functionally unkillable, it was the city that had the health meter you had to keep track of with the Final Boss being a tornado that can wreck the entire city.
    • Superman: Shadow of Apokolips: You could be killed, but enemies did relatively little damage and you regenerated health constantly. But the moment a civilian died, you lost the level. In addition, many levels were based around preventing a disaster (sabotaged dam, volcano eruption, etc.), so that the risk from enemies was that they would slow you down rather than any risk that they would kill you.
    • Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe:
      • The game is interesting about this, because it brings up the question of who is really getting the creeps and seeps respectively, since there's Superman on the DC side, a god (Raiden) and a supernatural undead (Scorpion) on the Mortal Kombat side, and a range of less powerful superheroes and flat-out humans scattered across both. The final explanation is that the merging of the two universes causes powers to fluctuate, strengthening some and weakening others. It gets lampshaded when, after The Joker defeats Sonya, Deathstroke asks in bewilderment, "Since when can you beat anybody?!" (The Joker promptly trashes him afterwards and then decides to use his newfound strength to defeat Batman. He does but then forgot the Bat's defining characteristic and got knocked out by a taser.)
      • As for Superman, remember that most of the Mortal Kombat cast are either inherently or powered by or using magic — and Superman is basically a mundane when it comes to magic (which he remarks after receiving a normal kick from Scorpion in the story). Only Sonya Blade, Kano and Jax as well as the other DC characters barring Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel are non-magical, so only they really need the Hand Wave above to face off effectively against the Man of Steel. This is even addressed in Superman's arcade ending, in which he asks Captain Marvel for training to make him as strong against magic as he is against everything else.
      • Injustice: Gods Among Us received much grousing from fans when it was initially announced, mainly because some people found the thought of characters like Harley Quinn and Nightwing being able to punch out Superman and Wonder Woman to be absurd. Of course, nobody really plays fighting games for the plot or realism, do they? It's handwaved in-game with Kryptonian nanotech compressed in pills that make the Badass Normal characters tough enough to go toe-to-toe with superpowered characters and in the comics is capable of making Alfred Pennyworth strong enough to give Superman a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
      • An inversion is Ares, who is weaker than normal due to Alternate!Superman eliminating global conflict, the source of his power. This is why the God of War can be defeated in hand-to-hand combat.
      • Injustice 2 is just as much, if not more, guilty about this. Unlike before, the story doesn't reference the infamous pills. It also features the signature unique intros carried over from Mortal Kombat X, and it's kind of funny seeing Harley Quinn take on Black Adam and having the intro act like they're equals.
  • The trend gets, if anything, a bit worse with Mortal Kombat X's many Guest Fighters. Leatherface (a fairly tough but untrained and unpowered serial killer with improvised weaponry) really shouldn't stand much of a chance against the supernaturally-skilled and powered cast. Conversely, the Xenomorph's acid blood seems to be largely ignored, as it would make the moves in the game that involve High-Pressure Blood (which is a lot of them) completely unusable.
  • Continuing the trend for Mortal Kombat 11's Guest Fighters, we have the T-800, the aforementioned Joker, and Spawn. The T-800 is a superhuman time travelling cyborg and, while feasible that he can take on more human characters like Sonya Blade or Johnny Cage, it becomes head tilting when he does so with physical gods like Raiden or Kronika, who should reasonably be able to reduce him to scrap metal with ease. Same goes for the Joker, who's a base-line human and naturally lacks the means to hurt or kill the upper echelons of the MK roster and doesn't have the excuse of power fluctuations caused by merging universes to explain how he can fight these stronger opponents. Spawn is practically the opposite of the former two, as his winning of the Superpower Lottery and having a wide array of abilities and weapons that have let him take on and even kill the hierarchy of Heaven and Hell should put him on the same level as, if not above, physical gods such as Raiden. However, for the sake of gameplay purposes, they can get beaten down by anyone and beat them down in kind.
  • The first pack of DLC characters in Mortal Kombat 1 run the gamut. From the Badass Normal Peacemaker, the Flying Brick with Eye Beams that could fight an army Homelander, and the guy who can fly to other planets and put a hole in one Omni-Man, the range that the characters need to be nerfed or buffed is vast.
  • The Super Robot Wars games at least partially do this out of necessity. Enemies that can survive an attack from the planet-busting Ideon can die to a missile barrage from a squad of Valkyries.
    • In general, the game attempts to justify this by making the Real Robot characters into range-focused Fragile Speedsters and the Super Robot characters into melee-focused Mighty Glaciers. After all, a Gundam has big guns and tends to fly around in space on jet boosters dodging flak, while Mazinger Z tends to simply brawl with its opponents on the ground, take hits on the chest, and reserve ranged attacks for bombastic super moves. The former staying at range and dodging a lot while the latter charges into melee and occasionally tosses out a Rocket Punch is pretty accurate to how a real fight with them would go - where it enters this trope is that the Gundam's beam rifle does more than scratch the Mazinger's paint job.
    • A good example comes from Super Robot Wars Judgment in term of the casts. On one end, you got things like Gundam SEED, Blue Comet SPT Layzner, Brain Powerd, and Martian Successor Nadesico. On the other side, you got things like Mazinkaiser, Zeorymer, and Tekkaman Blade(yes, this guy again). The latter part of the cast makes the infamous scene from Gundam SEED where Mwu is killed pretty awkward because they can simply tank the attack and really likely to survive. And even in the midst of battle, both Zeorymer and Blade has more than enough speed to arrive on time.
    • Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 and Super Robot Wars Destiny has moments where awkward game design makes one group too strong or one group too weak. In Alpha 3, Phase Shift Armor made the Gundam SEED units virtually unstoppable due to drastically reducing damage from anything not specifically coded as a beam weapon, which most non-Gundam weapons are not even when they fire energy beams. In Destiny, enemies possessed outrageous attack power compared to the armor stats of player units, making super robots, designed with the intent of tanking hits, incapable of doing so. The degree of power seep was so great that many players became mistakenly convinced that it was a bug.
    • Z3 incorporates both Gurren Lagann (a series where the final villain threw a Big Bang as an attack) and Armored Trooper VOTOMS (a series where the main robots could be damaged by grenades). The result was inevitable.
    • One of the stranger places this applies is that, in the game's graphics, most of the robots are about the same size (despite having "size classes" that refer to their canonical sizes in relation to each other). For instance, a Gundam fighting Daitarn 3 will have at most a head of difference; were scale taken into account, the former would fit comfortably into the latter's palm.
    • Another Century's Episode 3 takes a nerf bat to the Shin Getter Robo, again out of pure necessity. However, it's still pretty well in line with how SRW depicts Super Robots compared to Reals (namely, big and slow, but heavily armored and super-strong). To give you an idea of just how nerfed Shin Getter robo was; on his test flight it was able to nearly reach the speed of light. On the other hand, they left the Overman King Gainer units alone.
    • Many of Banpresto's Crossover games also qualifies: The Spiral Chaos games gives Lily, who is the only character who fights barehanded, moves that seems taken off more from Fist of the North Star than Tekken. Justified, since it's the only explanation how she's able to fight against many of the Queen's Blade's cast, who uses swords or medieval weapons, or against superpowered beings like Dizzy or people who use guns like Noel Vermillion. Even in the case of both Dizzy and Noel, it could be handwaved that they are trying to avoid using their full power (Dizzy) or in Noel's case, she's using her humanoid form and not her Mu-12 persona.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Many of the Disney characters suddenly become a Master Swordsman, magic user, or Kung Fu master of some sort to put them on equal combat ground with the main characters of the game. It's slightly jarring (and very awesome) to see Mickey Mouse with Yoda-like fighting abilities while retaining the personality he's had for the past 50 or 60 years. Special mention goes to Ariel, who never fought in the original movie. Here? She becomes a straight-up Black Mage who helps you defeat Ursula after she becomes giant and in III, though Ariel is a summon, her Rhythm Game mechanics allows her to bring bosses to their knees (even the Final Boss!) hence why you don't get her until the Caribbean, one of the last worlds.
    • Beast also qualifies for this trope. In his movie, he fought against Gaston, a Badass Normal villain. But in the Kingdom Hearts series, he's able to take on more powerful and supernatural villains like Maleficent and Organization XIII's Xaldin. It must be pointed out that the Beast was supernaturally strong in his own movie: Gaston was straight-up made of Charles Atlas Superpower (although a mild version) and completely helpless against him. The trope it's still in action, just not too heavily.
  • Super Smash Bros.:
    • Due to its very nature, characters from all around the power spectrum show up, either as playable characters or as bosses, which can lead to situations such as a trained mercenary with an enchanted BFS who has slain a goddess being beaten by a normal guy with gardening tools (the former went from being a Lightning Bruiser to moving like he's knee-deep in molasses, the latter who had no combat in his series whatsoever); or Rayquaza, one of the most powerful Legendary Pokémon, being beaten by a monkey with a pop-gun. A power-up was pretty much mandatory for the Wii Fit Trainer and Duck Hunt dog.
    • The "winner" of this phenomenon is most likely Jigglypuff: In its home series, Jigglypuff is a very weak character who unlike Pikachu, doesn't benefit from any sort of power boosting item and even its evolution isn't considered a top tier character, its HP is its best stat while everything else is kind of bad. It also learns a move called Rest, which makes it fall asleep to recover HP... In Smash Bros., it uses Rest to instantly K.O opponents (provided that the move actually connects) and also has incredible recovery (as in "getting back onto the stage after being knocked off" as opposed to gaining health back) and aerial game, which are mechanics that don't exist in a turn-based RPG like the main Pokémon games. These traits make Jigglypuff the poster child of Lethal Joke Characters.
    • Some characters also get ability changes, for better or worse; for example, Kirby can use moves from multiple copy abilities in his base form, while Meta Knight loses his Sword Beam and becomes a strict close range fighter, Ness and Lucas retain none of their own PSI moves (except PK Flash) but their physical methods of attack like bats, sticks and the yo-yo become ludicrously powerful, Mario can now use fireballs in his normal form, all Fire Emblem reps except Robin and Byleth can now use Counter without taking damage (although Robin gets access to spells that are supposed to be mutually exclusive to each other and Byleth can use the Heroes' Relics), Mega Man can use most of his Robot Master abilities from the start, etc. A few characters straight-up gain superpowers, such as Captain Falcon (in his home series, more or less solely depicted as a well-trained human) gaining the ability to generate gigantic flaming birds. Later F-Zero material even brings in the idea of Falcon being superhuman.
      • Kirby's selection of copy ability moves was later backported into the Kirby series by way of the "Smash" ability, which Kirby can get by inhaling Master Hand (also cameoing from Super Smash Bros.) in Kirby & The Amazing Mirror. It's one of the most powerful and versatile abilities in the series, which is probably why it's only appeared in 3 games.
    • Melee brings Ganondorf and the Ice Climbers. The former, due to time constraints in development, was made as a Captain Falcon clone, thus replaces his powerful sorcery with punches and kicks; powerful punches and kicks, sure, but nothing like what he demonstrated in the Zelda series. The latter, originally just a hammer-wielding duo, got cool ice powers just because they were in a crossover.
    • Played with Roy's sword in Melee; in The Binding Blade the titular weapon turned him into a walking machine of death, and it only caught on fire when he landed a critical. In Melee, though he can set it on fire anytime he wants, these are toned down so they are normal attacks. The reason why this isn't a straight example is that Roy actually did debut in Smash.
    • Brawl brings Solid Snake. He can't even jump during gameplay in his own series, but here he can easily jump three times his height and fly with the assistance of a summoned Cypher (his enemies in his games), perform elegant suplexes, and is so flexible he can bend his spine almost all the way back. Also, the swimming/drowning mechanics the game introduced are nearly the same for everyone, even for characters who can't swim (Sonic and Charizard), characters who can't drown (Squirtle in Brawl and Greninja in Wii U/3DS), or characters who dissolve in water (the Inklings in Ultimate). Armored and Zero Suit Samus highlight this as well. In her original appearance, Zero Suit Samus was part of a No-Gear Level, lacking any offensive capabilities whatsoever outside of a temporary stun. In Smash Bros, she's significantly faster and more agile than her armored counterpart (in the original, she was, if anything, slower), and actually places higher on most Character Tiers. This is finally slightly averted in Ultimate, where armored Samus is ranked higher than her Zero Suit self.
    • Wii U/3DS brings Little Mac, while also kicking it up a notch by bringing two Physical Godesses as playable characters: Palutena, the Goddess of Light, and Rosalina, Mother of the Stars. With Little Mac, he's turned from a relatively weak but very determinate boxer, to a powerful Boxing Battler beast when fighting on the ground. Meanwhile, Palutena and Rosalina bring some impressive light and cosmic attacks to the fray, but they can be beaten by any other character, no problem. The DLC adds Bayonetta and Cloud Strife, both of whom have beaten enemies that wrecked solar systems.
    • In 3DS/Wii U, in some kind of reverse example from the Sword of Seals, Robin's Bronze Sword is as strong as legendary weapons wielded by his fellow Fire Emblem reps, and can now use dark magic. On the other hand, he is the slowest character in the game despite having utterly overpowered Game-Breaker stats in Awakening.
    • Olimar in Pikmin is about the size of a quarter. This isn't the case in his Smash incarnation, who is merely a bit short. Presumably, it wouldn't be very fun for Olimar players if the other characters could defeat him by stepping on him.
    • Sonic's Homing Attack is restricted by a charge-up time to prevent the player from endlessly spamming it like they can in most Sonic games. His speed is also nerfed by a significant degree, though he's still the fastest character in the game by a wide margin (most likely because if he were any faster, he'd be basically uncontrollable).
    • Another good show of this comes from the first two newcomers to Ultimate. On one hand, you have the Inklings, humanoid squid kids who in their home series only fight with weapons that shoot ink in what basically amounts to a professional sport. The other one is Ridley, Samus' nemesis, a feared space pirate who also happens to be a huge space dragon/pterodactyl hybrid that can shrug off dozens of missiles to the face. He still can be beaten by the aforementioned squid kids. Additionally, one of the Echo Fighters revealed was Dark Samus, who loses most of the crazy Phazon-powered tricks she demonstrated in her home series and instead ends up with the usual array of lasers and missiles that Samus favors.
    • Alternatively, another good showing comes from Simon Belmont and Isabelle. The former is a vampire slayer who regularly hunts and kills world-ending entities, has fought against and defeated Dracula himself, and fights using a chain whip, holy water, an axe, and a cross while his Final Smash is a Holy Hand Grenade. The latter is an adorable, clumsy anthropomorphic dog who comes from a peaceful and non-confrontational series, in her home games is just a secretary with no actual combat skills, while she "fights" using pom-poms, a flower pot, a fishing pole, a bucket of normal water, and her Final Smash is her commissioning a town hall that blows up. The vampire slayer can be beaten by the dog secretary without a problem, and both can be beaten by Piranha Plant, an ordinary Mook in its home series who doesn't have anything but a mouth full of sharp teeth, thorny leaves and its flower pot/pipe. Incidentally, in spite of Simon's arsenal, he received a boost of his own: his holy water, in his own games, could only be used on evil beings, but in Smash Bros., everyone is vulnerable to it, including paragons of good like Mario and Link, characters with animal-like intelligence and no sense of right or wrong like some Pokémon and Mr. Game & Watch, actual gods like Palutena and Rosalina, and even other Simons.
    • Ultimate made the former Joke Character Pichu into an Adaptational Badass, and outshines its evolved form Pikachu in certain categories. While it still hurts itself from its attacks, Pichu is more nimble, and its attacks have insane KO power for their weight. In the home games, and in all other media including Melee, Pikachu has far superior stats across the board as the bigger and better version that all Pichu aspire to be.
    • A variant occurs with the Spirits in Ultimate. They're divided into four power levels, Novice (1-Star), Advanced (2-Star), Ace (3-Star) and Legend (4-Star), and many don't quite correspond to the character's power level in their home series note . For example, Julius, the Big Bad and Final Boss of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War is a powerful mage with Heroic Lineage possessed by a god... and he's a 1-Star. Sakura, a White Mage who can't fight until promotion, is a 3-Star. Pauline, a character with no fighting ability in her home series, is not only a 4-Star spirit, but possibly the most infamous That One Level of the single-player Adventure mode.
    • This can be felt even amongst Spirits of the same rank, depending on their power and skills. Hades and Medusa, both from Kid Icarus: Uprising, appear as 4-Star spirits. In their original game, Hades is Medusa's superior who revived her from a bunch of souls and killed her easily in the final battle, despite him having already taken plenty of damage. In Ultimate, not only Medusa has more spirit power, but her skill to turn the player giant when equipped is widely considered better than Hades's of turning the player into a Glass Cannon.
    • Even Dan Hibiki, the poster child for Joke Character, of all people, is victim of this. He's the weakest spirit in the game, a 1-Star with the lowest spirit power and giving the player 30% damage with no benefit (unless you're playing as Lucario whose attacks grow stronger when he's damaged and benefits from an automatic 30% damage). However, it is a fact that Dan can at least fight a bit. The 1-Star spirit that is 2nd place to him in terms of weakness is Alm & Celica... as children. When they were barely able to pick a weapon. And give no negative effects when equipped. They can also be Enhanced. Knowing Dan, however, this is likely intentional.
  • Heroes of the Storm:
    • The game has this by necessity. Characters that are Physical Gods in their home universes like Ragnaros and Diablo can go toe-to-toe with a baby frog, a little girl that brews tea, or some DJ, and either of the two fighters could come out ahead. It's a bit odd that the game touts itself as a What If? simulation to see who'd win between various Blizzard heroes even though balance is always first and foremost. Then again, a realistic version probably wouldn't be a fun game.
    • It gets kind of silly when map objectives are considered. Somehow, random angel and demon Illarian and Beleth are considerably more powerful than any of the playable angels and demons from the Diablo universe. Most of those playable heroes are supposed to be the most powerful of their race. Then you have Blackheart's cannonballs ripping structures to shreds while the Hyperion's Yamato cannon only tickles them.
    • Abathur actually averts this. True to StarCraft II, he's a Non-Action Guy that never engages in combat. Abathur only has about 700 health (in a game where the squishiest of squishies have 1300+) and is pathetic in an actual fight. Instead, he assists his teammates with invisible mines, locusts that passively help push lanes, and a Symbiote that he can put on any ally's head, buffing them and remotely attacking from it.
    • The most amusing example is Probius. He's an Ascended Extra based on the Protoss Worker Unit. Probes in Starcraft at best can summon Pylons to remotely call in forces (something that Probius became a Memetic Badass for in a cinematic). Yet, in this game he's not only a competent fighter, he gets a whole bunch of high-damage skills that can blow up heroes in seconds. Essentially, he went from a Worker Unit to a Black Mage.
    • Cinematics get the chance to play with this. Forged by Fire featured Varian fighting a version of Ragnaros without Units Not to Scale... and getting his ass handed to him. Hanamura Showdown had Genji's shurikens and katana being completely ineffective against Diablo's skin, while Hanzo likewise has all of his arrows harmlessly bounce off Alexstrasza in Dragons of the Nexus. In game, those things are more often than not reversed - Varian can pin Ragnaros down and quickly outdamage him, while Hanzo is a powerful ranged attacker and Alex is a squishy healer. The only one that realistically makes sense is Diablo obliterating Genji, since he's quite a hard counter.
  • In the Nasuverse, supposedly even the strongest of the Hero Servants from Fate/stay night are just "1/4th of the power of the vampire Arcueid" from Tsukihime, according to the writers Note  . However, in the fan Crossover Battle Moon Wars, the Servant Saber gets paired with the maid Kohaku, who proceeds to pump Saber up with all kinds of beneficial drugs power-ups to equalize things. This is the only one that's really explained however; Hisui the maid can match vampires as well for some reason.
    • Then there's the fact that Word of God states that any non-dead apostle Tsukihime character would be absolutely obliterated by a Servant. (Except for Aoko.) And even then, the stronger ones, such as Saber, could take down most of them. The villains at least get their power boosts explained...
      • It should be pointed out that when this is against an average Servant with an average noble phantasm. For example, Word of God also stated that Servant Caster could obliterate Aoko. Apparently, ancient witch from the era of gods > sorcery.
      • Word of God is also that certain Servants could beat even Arcuied, depending on their abilities. Lancer, with Gae Bolg; and Gilgamesh, with Gate of Babylon, are given as examples. This is also justified by the fact that Arcueid never has access to 100% of her powers.
      • Said power boost is explained in Melty Blood itself; for some reason the presence of the Tatari/White Len projections is inducing powerups in the lesser characters such as the maids and Miyako. Why isn't exactly clear. In fact, in the manga, Shiki uses his full killing intent on the maids by accident. His first shock is that his instincts triggered him to do so; his second was that they were fine after.
    • Fate/EXTRA has Arcuied appear as a Servant. The only way anyone has a hope in hell against her was because her summoner was an idiot and summoned her as a Berserker, which locked out her insane Game-Breaker abilities. It's explicitly stated that if she came out "normally" she would have had a special, ridiculously overpowered class that would have corrupted the entire Moon Cell system from the inside.
      • Fate/Extra CCC averts this with Gilgamesh, who is just as insanely overpowered in story as he is in canon. Not only are his stats higher than the other Servants, but he's capable of instantly ending any fight with his Noble Phantasm. Any fight.
      • Fate/Extella has Servants like Gilgamesh, Alexander, Lancer, Jeanne, and Archer fight against much weaker opponents, so naturally this is in place. Gil doesn't use Ea, which limits him to being very strong, but still fightable. Lancer and Jeanne, however, have their Noble Phantasms reduced from an instant kill to just being very damaging. Jeanne's still kills her, but since Servants can be revived up to three times per battle, it's only a minor penalty.
    • Naturally, this also appears in Fate/unlimited codes, being a Fate/fighter. Characters like Rin and Kotomine are able to go toe to toe against opponents like Berserker and Saber Alter. It's even present in the arcade mode stories, but it's at least acknowledged that characters like Caster and Assassin individually being able to defeat Berserker with the former two in a weakened state being nothing short of a miracle.
    • Fate/Grand Order revels in this. Class advantages reign supreme in terms of dealing damage, and AOE Noble Phantasms will deal less individual damage than single-target Noble Phantasms. In other words, Sasaki Kojirou's Swallow Reversal will kill huge dragons faster than Gilgamesh's world-wrecking Ea will. It's worse for the player-controlled Servants, as enemies can and will have access to multiple huge health bars and permanent buffs. You can collect the likes of Heracles, Ozymandias, or Karna, raise them up to their strongest level, and then watch as the likes of Mata Hari or Aŋra Mainiiu make mincemeat out of them if they happen to be your next boss battle.
      • That said, story-wise battles are portrayed with as much accuracy to the lore as they can get away with. Also, Nerofest exhibition matches pit the player against Servants with more access to their lore-exclusive abilities.
      • This also applies to some Servant rarities, which tend to run on a mix of Popularity Power and not wanting to screw free-to-players out of being able to use their favorites. This is how Cu Chulainn, one of the more powerful people in lore, ends up at three-star rarity, the Famed In-Story-and-out Arash is a one-star, and gag character with a permanent Incurable Cough of Death Okita Souji is five stars.
  • Dragon Ball games:
    • Any video game that features Yajirobe as a non-Joke Character takes this trope to hilarious excess. He could neither fly nor use Ki Attacks in the show, but in at least one game this is compensated by throwing rocks from nowhere and flying by waving his legs around like he's paddling through water. He also gets Sword Beams in some games.
    • Other non-flight and/or non-ki attack characters in Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi do this as well, depending on the game. In the first one, everyone flies. in the second one, people who can't fly don't and instead fall down like rocks. In the third game they instead fall down slowly (which is actually closer to in-series behavior), air jump (this isn't) and you can give them a Potara that allows flying.
    • And in a few where Mister Satan/Hercule makes an appearance, he has a jetpack and explosives as a (rather weak) justification for him being able to do anything against the series regulars.
    • On the other end of the scale, in Dragon Ball Xenoverse, Whis is an available character. He's also one of the most powerful characters in the entire Dragon Ball canon, far surpassing even Beerus, the God of Destruction. Whis is portrayed as not taking combat very seriously at all, with most of his movements and attacks being downright playful, as though he's holding back a gigantic amount of power... and he's still probably the strongest character in the game. Even the game's Big Bad, who thought he could control Beerus without great effort, is terrified of the prospect of facing Whis in combat.
    • This is pretty much legion in Dragon Ball fighting games, given the show's love of Power Levels and constant Lensman Arms Race. Generally, characters who are meant to be stronger in canon are slightly stronger than their peers, but they still take potentially KO-worthy damage from attacks that shouldn't even give them a bloody nose. Tenkaichi 3 is likely the king, with its gigantic roster; you can set up a match between Emperor Pilaf's ramshackle Mini-Mecha and Super Saiyan 4 Gogeta, then defeat a galaxy-destroying Physical God with machine guns.
    • By Dragon Ball FighterZ you've got characters on the low end of the power scale like Krillin or Yamcha dueling with Physical Gods the likes of Beerus and Super Saiyan Rosé Goku Black. Even characters who outclassed the Z Warriors in their heyday, such as Nappa, are able to take on foes who far outpace them by the standards of Dragon Ball Super (such as Super Saiyan Blue Goku and Vegeta). The devs tried to balance the obvious power discrepancies to an extent by making the weaker characters better support characters (such as Krillin's ability to heal others with Senzu Beans), and in Story Mode everyone fighting on equal level is justified by an anomaly created by Android 21 that weakened all of the fighters until they were on pretty much the same level (excepting Beerus, who's just not taking any of the fights seriously).
  • In LittleBigPlanet's Metal Gear Solid themed expansion pack, Liquid Ocelot's plan is to flood LBP with pointless trophy levels so that he can be loved, and the Metal Gear itself is essentially beaten by a Sackboy with a paintball gun.
  • Danny Phantom always gets the short end of the stick in the Nicktoons Unite! series. Nicktoons Unite gets around this with a game-long Plot Tailored to the Party (and even then he had to gain his abilities back), but then came Battle for Volcano Island, where he's stuck to throwing punches and shooting energy blasts. This got even worse in Attack of the Toybots which, outside of his Master Model areas, limits him to punching and using a goo gun (but so does everyone else) to the point that freaking Rocko can do as much damage as him. (Though at least that game justifies his weakness: Calamitous somehow managed to neutralise his ghost powers while leeching energy off the Ghost Zone to power his game-long Eternal Engine.) And then in Globs of Doom, he can generate temporary duplicates of himself... via gadgetry from the Hub Level, which is in the universe of Volcano Island. (Meanwhile, Dib developed implausible punching skills.)
  • Dengeki Gakuen RPG: Cross of Venus, being a crossover action RPG, delivers a nerf bat to everyone and everything from Shakugan no Shana, A Certain Magical Index and Asura Cryin' as well as to that good ol' psycho angel Dokuro-chan, and a buffing to just about everything pertaining to Toradora! (Yes, even Inko, who is a mook) and Kino's Journey. And most of the bosses are Evil Knockoffs of various characters, explaining their weakness (or in a few cases, strength) compared to the people they replicate.
    • At the same time though, it also averts power creeping with three plot characters: Index, Haruka and Misao aren't fighters in their canon and so they are not playable characters despite being in your party; instead, they are support characters who hold the cards usable in battle. They don't even have any in-battle sprites. (And hey, it fits Index's canon role.)
  • One example done due to the affected person being an Early-Bird Cameo Guest Fighter: Just from playing Soulcalibur IV back at its time of release, few would have guessed that Galen Marek is a Person of Mass Destruction in his own universe. Another Soulcalibur example, Kratos is in the PSP version. Naturally he's pretending he can't kill them all with one punch by repeatedly punching them in the face as he did with Hercules and Zeus in God of War III.
  • Gundam crossover games tend to feature this in abundance, due to the power discrepancies between different Gundam timelines. Especially noticeable in those that contain the Turn A and Turn X, both of which, canonically speaking, should be able to turn any other mobile suit into dust (literally). Expect to see them beaten by such things as the RX-78-2 or Char's Zaku II. One notable exception is Mobile Suit Gundam Climax UC. If you try to take on Char's Counter Attack stage with a GM, expect the enemy grunts to take several shots before dying. And expect them to take off half your health bar with every shot.
  • Although the storylines try to keep everything making sense (Yukari was just messing around, Sanae wasn't taking Cirno seriously, etc.), this is a continuous problem in the Touhou Project fighting Gaiden Games, with all of the 20+ playable characters relatively equal in gameplay despite their gargantuan power differences. The best example of Power Creep is Cirno, a little ice fairy that, while suggested to be fairly powerful for the setting, has to seriously struggle to hold her own against one of the protagonists is a fair fight. And the cast is taken almost entirely from characters on the protagonist's level or higher. On the other end of the scale is Yukari, the boss of the series' only Phantasm stage and generally considered to be one of the most powerful characters. Nothing stops you from beating up Yukari with Cirno (aside from needing to link Hisoutensoku to a copy of Scarlet Weather Rhapsody so that both games' casts are playable).
    • Then again, justified by the existence of the spellcard system, which forbids them from using their true powers and instead forces them to rely on lesser abilities, balanced against each other. There's still a difference, but with good enough tactics it is possible for weaker characters to win (as evidenced in Imperishable Night, since protagonists are equivalent to level 4 bosses, and they do take down level 6 bosses regularly).
    • Fairy Wars, in which Cirno is the Player Character, gives a possible reason for her inconsistent power level: as a fairy, her strength is closely linked to her self-confidence (to the point where she has a Motivation meter in place of lives). After beating the Three Fairies of Light and feeling like she can do anything, she's able to put up a surprisingly good fight against even Marisa, one of the main characters of the franchise. The next time she fights the main characters (in Double Dealing Character) she's dropped back down to a Stage 1 midboss with no dialogue.
    • Another good case is Hong Meiling, whose focus on martial arts almost makes her a fighting game character in a Bullet Hell universe. Yes, she is present in Hisoutensoku and she's no less powerful than characters like Yukari... but her ranged attacks are noticeably worse than anyone else's.
  • While one could see Cardcaptor Sakura's eponymous character matching the other mages in Magical Battle Arena power-wise, it's a little harder to imagine her being able to take hits as well as renowned members of a multi-dimension spanning police force or veteran adventurers of a fantasy world considering how she kinda has the durability of an ordinary elementary school student.
  • In Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Amazing Spider-Man takes out the Juggernaut in a fistfight. Granted, Spidey has defeated Juggernaut in the comics, but he did so by forcing him to the ground with his might and trapping him in cement. Here, it's handwaved by suggesting that the power of the Tablet Fragment is messing with Juggy's Gem of Cyttorak-given power.
  • Various characters in the Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games series. For example, in his main series, Sonic the Hedgehog is referred to as "the world's fastest supersonic hedgehog", capable of running above the speed of sound without breaking a sweat. In the Olympic Games series, though he is still one of the fastest characters in terms of top speed, his other attributes are reduced to better balance him with the other characters.
    • Depending on player skill and/or the A.I., it's possible for slow characters like Eggman and Bowser to outrun Sonic! It's hilarious to see. (Then again, the original Sonic the Hedgehog shows that Eggman is indeed capable of outrunning Sonic, at least for a few seconds.)
    • It has been pointed out that holding back in the name of good competition is perfectly in-character for many of those with superior skills. Sonic, while proud of his running ability, has never been shown as arrogant and enjoys competition; and Mario, while having his jump as a defining feature, has displayed good sportsmanship in many other disciplines to date.
    • By extension to the above, literally any racing game that includes Sonic as a character (e.g. Sonic Drift, Sonic Racing, Sonic Riders, Sega & Sonic All-Stars Racing and so forth). Sonic is usually handicapped by being forced to ride a vehicle with the only exception being Sonic R, and it's telling that in one racing game, his character-specific power-up was to get out of the car and just run. Transformed has Ralph questioning why Sonic is driving a car. note 
  • Super Mario Bros. is full of examples. The most prominent examples are Mario and Luigi, whose only consistent abilities are that they jump really high and run at least moderately fast. Other than that, their strength, speed, and durability are HIGHLY variable depending on the game. Jack of All Stats used to be known as "The Mario", due to him usually having balanced stats in crossover games. This is still definitely Power Seep, he should be jumping higher than anyone else and at a minimum can break bricks by punching or ground pounding them. Neither of these should be considered "average", especially when crossovers involve normals.
  • Defense of the Ancients does this with a lot of the crossover heroes. One of the most notable examples, Lina Inverse, can unmake creation with her Laguna Blade, which only does 1250 damage in-game. (Which, to be fair, is a lot of damage.)
  • In Asura's Wrath, one DLC has Asura facing off against Street Fighter's very own Ryu and Akuma and their respective Superpowered Evil Side Evil Ryu and Oni. It's a pretty cool idea, except for the fact that, in his own game, Asura is so overwhelmingly powerful that's he's up there with Capcom characters like those of the Darkstalkers series or the Ōkami series as one of the strongest characters made with Capcom's name attached to it. In said DLC, Ryu survives being punched all the way to the moon from Earth, Evil Ryu moves a mountain-sized landmass, and the battle with Akuma/Oni destroys the moon!
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable: The Gears of Destiny threw in various justifications to explain why characters from different currently running installments of the franchise have roughly the same power levels when they shouldn't. Specifically, the Time Travel caused a malfunction on Thoma's Tome of the Silver Cross to explain why he can't just Anti-Magic his way through the unprepared cast, Vivio and Einhart are being greatly assisted by their Devices to explain why they could fly here when they couldn't in their series, and Reinforce Eins is slowly dying by this point to explain the nerfing she got in the game.
  • In the third Warriors Orochi game, Ryu Hayabusa of Ninja Gaiden joins the cast in their quest to defeat the Hydra. He accompanies them as they travel through different moments in time when the Hydra strike desperately trying to discover a way to beat the seemingly unstoppable monster. Thing is, Ryu in his own game series has fought and beaten numerous giant abominations all by himself and the Hydra really shouldn't have been that big a deal for him to handle by his lonesome. It is suggested that the Hydra is truly Nigh-Invulnerable and could not be killed by even the Physical God Mystic characters. They required Orochi's own power—that is, the Yashi'ori powered by Shuten-dōji. Plus, it's not like Ryu had the True Dragon Sword with him.
    • Speaking of Ryu, his inclusion in Dead or Alive is problematic as there should be no way the human characters should be able to beat him in a fight — the man has proven he can literally fight his way to Hell and back. Later games show that Ryu is not at all shaken by DOATEC's threats and could easily ruin them, but would rather let Kasumi and Hayate take care of things: it's not his fight. He does bail them out several times in Dimensions, however. He also is recognized as the victor of the second game's tournament; as the threat posed by Tengu was unrelated to either the Mugen Tenshi clan (which the Hayabusa clan is canonically on good terms with) or DOATEC's machinations, presumably this was enough for Ryu to take action.
  • Probably would have been the case in cancelled fan game My Little Pony: Fighting Is Magic. Say what you will, but it's pretty hard to imagine the physically weak Fluttershy taking on a superstrong, superfast powerhouse like Rainbow Dash, or a fashionista like Rarity defeating magical prodigy Twilight Sparkle, who as a child suffered from a bout of Power Incontinence strong enough to instantly overwhelm several teachers at the most prestigious magical school in the kingdom, and attract the attention of the immortal god empress of Equestria who then made Twilight her personal student. And that's when she didn't know what she was doing.
  • Inverted in Team Fortress 2's new PvE mode Mann vs. Machine, in which the classes had to be rebalanced to ensure that they would be more or less equally useful against the robot hordes, mostly through the upgrade system. Most notably, the Scout starts out with the unique ability to gain health, up to a limitless overheal, by picking up money, and his Mad Milk item can be cheaply upgraded to slow bots' movement (as can the Sniper's Jarate). And on the flip side of the coin, some classes are denied upgrades available to their teammates; for example, the Heavy cannot boost his minigun's damage. The Engineer, meanwhile, has to contend with a special class of bot that hunts down sentry guns and then explosively self-destructs.
  • This can get pretty extreme in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale when you have a rapping puppy like PaRappa the Rapper or a normal cat like Toro and put them against Heihachi, Big Daddy, DmC Dante or Nariko. This is taken to an insane level when you have an Action Survivor like Nathan Drake who fights with a good Indy Ploy and sheer luck or Fat Princess, a normally immobile glutton and set them against a vicious god-slaying berserker like Kratos or a super-powered monster like both Cole McGraths. This applies somewhat to the weaponry as well: Colonel Radec's Level 2 Super should normally melt the flesh off its victims at the least or outright vaporize them into a red mist (not something even Kratos should be able to walk off). Raiden's sword meanwhile is an Absurdly Sharp Vibroweapon that should be able to slice people or Military Mashup Machines up several times over with ease. Neither of these do any lasting damage.
  • SD Gundam Capsule Fighter has this in spades. Thanks to its awkward ranking scheme, the Strike Gundam is the same level as Wing Zero Gundam, the Mermaid Gundam, which put up a big fight against Dragon Gundam in the Gundam Fight finals, is labeled a C-rank alongside grunt units like the Zaku, and the Nu Gundam and the F-91, while powerful units in their own right, are right up there with walking arsenals like the Double X.
  • Any game set in the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure-verse, like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle, has to balance Stands being Invisible to Normals with Stand users not completely destroying the characters from Parts 1 and 2, before Stands were introduced. Usually, it's accepted that non-Stand Users can see Stands in Acceptable Breaks from Reality to allow them to at least dodge their opponents (though a few lines in Eyes of Heaven imply that the Pillar Men still can't see Stands).
    • This happens to a lot of individual characters in All-Star Battle, as JoJo is a universe known for its weird powers that should by all rights break fights in half. Multiple characters have abilities that should cause a One-Hit Kill or at least a severe maiming if they connect at all, like Vanilla Ice and Okuyasu's Portal Cut/Power of the Void Stands, Kira's bombs, or Funny Valentine's D4C Never Shall The Selves Meet shenanigans. Vampires and Pillar Men could regenerate from being blown to pieces in the series, with the only surefire way to kill them being sunlight or Hamon. While they do have some health regeneration (which is negated by Hamon users), it's nowhere near that level. Ultimate Kars can regenerate From a Single Cell and use Hamon so powerful it's like the sun itself, but he can still theoretically be defeated by anyone on the roster. Giorno's Gold Experience Requiem and Pucci's Made In Heaven are massive power boosts, but they're based on 11th-Hour Superpowers that let them negate any action and reset the universe, respectively.
    • Meanwhile, at the other end of the powerscale, the sequel JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven adds Robert E. O. Speedwagon, a completely normal human with no special abilities aside from some brawling skills, a sledgehammer, and a razor-edged bowler hat. He can kill any of the above by simply smacking them with his hammer a few times. A particularly weird one is Stroheim, whose attacks in Eyes of Heaven are based in part on the use of ultraviolet lamps; effective in Battle Tendency, where his opponents were vampires, but in game he's more likely than not pitted against normal humans, who wouldn't get worse than a bad sunburn.
  • Everyone in Mushroom Kingdom Fusion has had this happen to them. Okay, the likes of Arthur from Ghosts 'n Goblins still dies in two hits at full health and the Mario characters have health systems based on the Super Mario Bros. series... but now they can take hits from and do significant damage to enemies from Mega Man, Doom and Halo among numerous others! You can even kill soldiers and things by jumping on them or using Sonic's spin attack or punching them in the face just once!
  • This is a problem that fans bemoan in Star Trek Online, especially towards the Federation: of the pre-STO Cruisers, the Excelsior-class is one of the oldest (at about 130 years) classes to get an Endgame-variation ship, yet it's Bridge Officer power layout and Console layout allows it to be one of the most powerful ships around. Compare this to the Galaxy-class, who is half that age and yet has half of the power the Excelsior does. And let's not get into the Scimitar for the Romulans, whose layout is so awkward, it actually allows players to effectively one man a five-man PVE match.
  • Cloud in Final Fantasy VII was the Master of All in the party in gameplay terms, and was considered freakishly strong in-story as well. In his cameo as a party member in Final Fantasy Tactics, he's below average.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy puts ordinary humans with no innate magic powers (Squall, Laguna, Tifa, Kain) on the same level as humans naturally capable of magic (Cecil, Firion, Ultimecia, Gabranth, Golbez), magic users with power from summoned demons (The Emperor, Yuna), summoned demons (Gilgamesh), humans granted with godlike powers to aid them on a quest (Warrior of Light, Onion Knight, Bartz, Lightning), humans augmented via Magitek means to have superior strength and magic (Kefka, Sephiroth, Cloud), part-human-part-Summoned Monster (Terra, Jecht), entirely artificial people made of magic (Zidane, Kuja, Tidus), evil spirits with magic capable of manipulating existence itself (Cloud of Darkness, Exdeath), and actual gods (Chaos). It's not nearly as bad as it seems, though, considering that they're mostly comprised of the main villains, who all possess world-ending power, and the protagonists, who are all capable of beating them up. Final Fantasy as a whole has always been completely fine with "ordinary humans" punching out Cthulhu.
  • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle:
    • It is never fully explained among the four franchises which is the exact strongest, and it doesn't help that the circumstances of each franchises are more or less glossed over when they all cross paths in the Phantom Field. At one end of the we have BlazBlue powerhouses like Ragna (fighting and winning against a world superpower alone and effectively becomes a god-slayer at the end of his story), Hazama (as powerful as Ragna for most of the series), Hakumen (was able to hold his own against an Eldritch Abomination that devastated the entire world on his own in the past, and is still considered to be insanely powerful at 20% of his normal strength), Jubei (hailed as the strongest being in existence and on par with the aforementioned Hakumen and Hazama even after becoming a Handicapped Badass), Nine (the wife of the aforementioned Jubei, and a master of magic and sorcery—which is considered a Story-Breaker Power in-universe and borders on Superpower Lottery), Azrael (so overwhelmingly powerful that even Hakumen runs away from him), Es (The Juggernaut most of the time in-story and held her own for a while against Susano'o, who is basically 100% Hakumen with Terumi—who has the same abilities as Hazama—at the helm), and the aforementioned Susano'o himself (a literal God of Destruction) who can effortlessly give Curb-Stomp Battle to most characters mentioned above.
    • At another end are the RWBY huntresses who have fought against ordinary human Mooks, slightly superhuman Elite Mooks and the menacing otherworldly creatures known as the Grimm; their physical prowess, stamina and Semblance allowing them to keep up on par with warriors of other franchises.
    • Then you have the Persona-users. Despite the fact they are not in the TV World, and being rather physically ordinary humans (excluding Aigis and Labrys, of course), their Personas grant them great power within the cognitive reality, and having battled and defeated countless Shadow enemies and even mythical deities, they have defeated multiple Eldritch Abominations who could've easily ended the world. Owners of the wild card like Yu Narukami and Aigis in particular may have an even greater edge against the other franchises as they hold the ultimate power of truth and have one of the strongest Personas ever in their games.
    • Last but not least are UNIB characters. While heavy hitters like Waldstein and Gordeau are certainly on the upper end of the scale, the rest of the cast are fairly average. In particular, Hyde and Carmine are Unskilled, but Strong, Orie and Linne are Weak, but Skilled, and none of them have ever gone up against anything that compares to the threats in BlazBlue and Persona.
    • This is even lampshaded by Iron Tager with his pre-battle interactions with Kanji by stating there is differences in their power levels, and they need to be careful about this match.
    • Also comes up in the Story Mode. At one point in Episode Under Night: In-Birth, Hyde comes across Weiss Schnee battling Azrael, and decides to team up with her to fend off him and newcomer Carmine long enough to provide a getaway. Throughout the Episode Persona 4 Arena story, the Investigation Team repeatedly underline how surprised they are by the power of the rest of the cast (as they are easily the least confrontational out of the four series—the BlazBlue characters are constantly at each other's throats, the UNIB cast is only marginally better, and Team RWBY are Blood Knights that operate on Rule of Cool) and throughout the story they mainly stay on the defensive, avoiding fights whenever possible and running away when a fight comes to them.
  • Jump Force is a Massive Multiplayer Crossover of Shonen Jump's big franchises, which house characters from all ends of the power scale. In this game, you have Physical Gods like Goku, mountain-level busters like Naruto, powerful for their setting but comparative low-levelers like Luffy, characters not known for physical fighting abilities like Yugi Mutou/Atem, and Badass Normal Chessmasters who don't even directly fight like Light Yagami, all on the same roster with the game treating them as equals.
  • Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story has all the girls being on a relatively similar powerscale, with the only real division being how many stars you can rank them up to — and even then, most can hit either 4/5 or 5/5. Additionally, thanks to Popularity Power, all the characters to appear in the original series can hit five stars, including the comparatively weak Sayaka, Nagisa, or Moemura. This puts them on the same level as real powerhouses like Mami, Kirika, Kazumi, Suzune, Riz, and a mid-timeline Madoka, and above Arisa, Yuma, Mirai, and most of the Original Generation. Tart is also playable, and though she's something of a Game-Breaker, she's not as strong as you'd expect for a character whom Word of God claims would have threatened the entire European continent in Witch form. To say nothing of the problems with this when Ultimate Madoka showed up: again, very strong on the tier lists, but we're talking about a being that hits on a multiversal scale and exists outside of time and space. Fighting her should be about as feasible as fighting the concept of electromagnetism. Some of this is justified by the game taking place in its own universe.
  • In Star Wars games, where both Force-sensitive and non-Force-sensitive characters are playable (such as Star Wars: Battlefront), Badass Normal characters with little more than a blaster and their wits tend to get upgraded to be on the same level as Jedi and Sith characters. Han and Leia, for instance, end up being able to tank considerable damage despite wearing no armor and take down vehicles in only a few shots from their pistols. Meanwhile, Jedi characters tend to be reduced to having a sword and one or two basic powers like jumping or shoving things around. Some games justify this better by giving the normal folks various gadgets and treating them as Weak, but Skilled Glass Cannon characters, or by turning the Jedi into Awesome, but Impractical super-units.
    • Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi, a Tekken clone from The '90s, probably has one of the strongest examples of this. Since this was a Fighting Game, it was entirely possible for characters like Chewbacca, Han and even a Stormtrooper to defeat people like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in one-on-one combat. And being a fighting game, you can smack people with your lightsaber and friggin' combo them, and somehow they don't hit the ground as a pile of charred limbs.
  • And, of course, this is the biggest draw towards M.U.G.E.N: if you can download the character, you can watch them beat each other up and get some amazing gems. Ronald McDonald defeating Freddy Krueger? Waluigi defeating Slenderman? Joel defeating Gyigas? A dialog box defeating Thanos? All of these are completely possible.
  • The later installments of the Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm series brings together characters from the whole run of the anime. For balance purposes, everyone is roughly equal in terms of power, meaning that pre-Time Skip versions of characters can defeat their much stronger end-of-series counterparts, or that Konohamaru (basically a young boy with relatively little ninja training) can fight against Reality Warper Physical Goddess Kaguya. This is best exemplified by the Ultimate Jutsus, which all deal the same amount of damage: Ino's Ultimate, which basically amounts to a single kick, is equal to certain attacks which involve Distant Reaction Shots (some of which are visible from orbit). Karin's Ultimate, which involves slapping you in the face with a paper bomb, is just as powerful as the Second Hokage's, where he tags you with hundreds of them. Some Ultimates are even explicitly One-Hit Kill attacks in canon (such as Naruto's Rasenshuriken, Gaara's Sand Burial, or the Third Hokage's Reaper Death Seal)!
  • League of Legends has characters ranging from Badass Normal like Miss Fortune and Graves to downright cosmic beings like Aurelion Sol and Kindred. And yet, the creator of the stars or the Grim Reaper themselves can lose a fight to completely normal humans with a few tricks up their sleeves.
  • Octopath Traveler: Most evident with Olberic, who is already a famed knight known to slay lesser warriors in droves with ease in his early years, and has spent years since his kingdom's fall as a sellsword. In game, he begins play scarcely more effective in battle than the young merchant girl more interested in bartering and trading or the apothecary who's spent most of his time in his adulthood as his town's doctor. Warrior is one of the better "base" kits for creating really big hits with a good sword, so he'll likely get a power spike early, but there's also nothing stopping his teammates from ending up as good or better than he is.
  • The crossover event of Monster Girl Quest! Paradox RPG adds in characters from seven other H Games, so it's not surprising that it has this trope. A notable example is the trio of succubi from Succubus Prison: Myusca, Nemea and Vinum. They don't really show any combat prowess in their original game, which is Survival Horror where the player (a normal human with no fighting skills) can only do their best to avoid these succubi. In the crossover event, they're powerful bosses who are a match for an entire party of skilled fighters, and can use Monster Girl Quest skills.
  • Tekken 7: In an example of Follow the Leader from the Mortal Kombat series, the game has started adding a few Guest Fighter from different video game companies. The thing is: you have powerhouse characters like Akuma, Geese Howard and Noctis being easily defeated by someone like Kuma. On the other hand, you have experienced fighters like Kazuya, Heihachi and Jin being taken out by non-fighters like Negan.
  • Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion: Mac and Bloo defeating Aku? Flapjack taking on Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles? Johnny Bravo challenging Vilgax to a fight and WINNING? Yeah, because WHY NOT?
  • Dengeki Bunko: Fighting Climax: Even though Akira Yuki is a powerful character in his home series, he would be at a huge disadvantage fighting characters from other franchises who wield magical powers.
  • One Piece: Pirate Warriors: As is traditional with these types of combat games that take place in worlds with large power-scales, you can defeat the strongest characters in One Piece's canon with any of the weakest if you so choose. Wanna use pre-timeskip Usopp to take down Akainu, Whitebeard, and Doflamingo in one level? Feel free. Nami even lampshades this whenever she beats very strong characters:
    Nami: No way... I won?
  • MARVEL SNAP: Due to being a Marvel Comics inter-company crossover, this was bound to happen to several characters, allowing some street-level characters to have power levels akin to Physical Gods. Hilariously, the location mechanic affects most characters equally — which means that universal/multiversal entities like Death, Galactus, Knull, the Phoenix Force, the Living Tribunal, or Thanos (with all the Infinity Stones) are all susceptible to dying from falling off an ordinary wooden bridge.

  • Dragon Ball Multiverse: Salagir has stated that in the canon of the comic, Super Saiyan forms act more like tiers than their canon state of multipliers - unless a character is extremely strong, like Vegito, most Super Saiyan 1 characters of a given level are in roughly the same power range, and pretty much any Super Saiyan 2 would be stronger than those characters. Broly also has the mechanics of his Legendary transformation altered to allow him the sort of feats he accomplished in his movie long after canon lapped him, with him going from "stronger than Perfect Cell" to "completely invincible and constantly growing in power."

    Web Original 
  • The inevitable fate of Always-Powerful-On-His-Own-But-Gets-His-Ass-Kicked-In-Crowd-Scenes Boy of the Legion of Net.Heroes.
  • The Dead Fantasy fan series by Monty Oum pits the heroines of Dead or Alive and Final Fantasy against each other in all-out fight scenes. The issue is, the girls from the former series are regular humans from a relatively low-power fighting game, whereas Final Fantasy characters have fantastical powers and superhuman strength, ranging from causing upheavals in the landscape to cracking open continents. Rather than bring the girls of the latter series down, the animator chose to lift the girls from the former up. Practically every character displays abilities and skills they have never canonically demonstrated in their home series.
    • Tifa is a proficient Kung-Fu Wizard loaded up the wazoo with materia, but canonically has always been presented as a Bare-Fisted Monk. She also demonstrates proficiency with drunken boxing, a fighting style she has never used in the games.
    • Rinoa perhaps saw the most drastic buffs: she now wields a gunblade and is permanently in Angel Wings state, granting her the ability to fly and incredibly powerful magics.
    • Kairi, who was never really an Action Girl in her home game, can wield a Keyblade as well as Sora and has access to his Drive forms as well.
    • Kasumi uses her Torn Sky Blast and ninja teleport much more liberally than in her games. And several clones of her can defeat all of Yuna's Aeons.
    • Ayane's ninja arts have been greatly upscaled. Her Art of the Raging Mountain God in Part II was able to obliterate a huge stone tower in one, making it one of the most impressive displays of power ever seen on the show.
    • Hitomi demonstrates proficiency with wing chun despite being a karate practitioner in her home series, and has also seen a huge increase in her strength, speed and durability feats: she threw a stone pillar the length of a bus with one arm, can keep up with a hasted Tifa in hand-to-hand, and later literally beats the materia out of Tifa despite being magically blinded.
    • In addition to her naginata and bow, Momiji makes use of flaming dual sai and throwing kunai. Her strength and reflexes also seem enhanced beyond anything she has demonstrated in the games.

    Western Animation 
  • DC Animated Universe:
    • Mostly averted in the Batman/Superman crossover episode "World's Finest". The Joker sets up a kryptonite-filled death trap for Supes and Batman has to race over there to rescue him. Later, Lex Luthor sends a Killer Robot after Bats and all he can do is stall for time until Superman stomps it. Generally Superman used more brute strength while Batman used tactics and gadgets to survive.
    • The killer robot was also given a realistic way to stand up to Superman: Harley Quinn had gagged and duct-taped Luthor's bodyguard Mercy to the robot, making it impossible for Superman to hit it without killing her too.
    • The DVD Commentary points out that the animators would sometimes let Batman fly to his next destination. He has a cape, and as we all know, anyone with a cape can fly. Naturally those animations had to be redone.
    • Batman himself is the subject of this throughout the DCAU's time line. In BTAS he was actually slowed down by mooks, in The New Batman Adventures he only had to pause for high level super villains, by Justice League he was the most competent member and by JLU he was less of a man and more of a walking Deus ex Machina.
    • Worth noting the Superman is at relatively sane levels of power. The kinetic impact of gunfire (from something high-powered like a minigun anyway) and missiles can knock him back, he struggles to pick up particularly heavy objects, his super-speed is somewhat downplayed, he requires a supply of oxygen in space or underwater, etc etc.
    • Justice League makes this trope into an art-form. Obviously, Superman would upstage everyone else due to his powers, while the others are fairly mis-matched; this leaves the writers playing havoc with the power-meter in order to keep all the characters represented evenly. Typically, this takes more than a few contrived situations which play to the weaker character's strengths and the stronger one's weaknesses.
    • The Flash, too. His speed should make him literally untouchable, but he's always being tripped up by people who to him should look like they're moving underwater. For instance, he fought off a alternate-universe Superman by casually dodging punches and then throwing him out a window, only to then be too surprised to dodge when Supes throws a piece of furniture at him from several yards away.
    • This is handwaved by some heroes: specifically The Flash and Superman. Flash intentionally seeps speed in races, as in the comics, because "those were for charity". Superman meanwhile takes hits "so the others don't have to." Basically, they aren't trying, even though failure might mean somebody dies. The other heroes, *cough* Martian Manhunter *cough*, have no such excuse.
      • When Lex Luthor got control of Flash, he wiped the floor with basically the entire WatchTower, showing powers the Flash never did. Of course, we learn why the Flash would never use them, since they could easily result in people dying.
      • There's a Lampshade Hanging by Superman himself in the final ep of JLU (his "No More Holding Back" Speech and afterwards).
      • Also somewhat justified by the episode "Only a Dream" where we find out that both The Flash and Superman are afraid of their power getting out of control. So they likely consciously or unconsciously reduce their abilities.
  • Young Justice (2010):
    • Pretty much all of the heroes and villains (including the Justice League) were noticeably weaker than their modern comic incarnations. Word of God from Greg Weisman is that they're more in line with pre-Creep interpretations and that this made the huge amount of super-powered characters more manageable.
    • A specific example of this in action happened. In Season 1, Superboy was introduced as by far the most powerful member of the Team, having mopped the floor with Aqualad, Robin and Kid Flash with little effort. Then in Season 2, Superboy fights Aqualad all by himself... and is effortlessly curb-stomped. The only explanation fans gave was that Aqualad's fighting skill improved between seasons, but it wasn't really shown all that well.
  • With some of the various "vs" cartoons— most notably with the "David Versus Goliath" type matches— to prevent outright mis-matches.
  • In Darkwing Duck, The Liquidator had extensive control over water - he could spontaneously generate it, change its temperature, and turn it into "hard water" (a yellow glue-like substance), and his body was entirely fluid. After his one solo appearance, his water temperature changing and hard water abilities vanished and his other abilities were scaled back. In all honesty, they had to. Liquidator's very nature makes him Nigh-Invulnerable, barring having his oxygen and hydrogen atoms being separated. And after someone that strong has been defeated once, you'll never see him as the super-being he was before. The lowered powers also dodge a very pesky piece of Fridge Logic, namely that Liquidator could have just boiled Darkwing alive by heating the 70% water content of his body otherwise. Then you wouldn't have much of a show, at least not one Disney would have ever allowed for an afternoon kids' cartoon.
  • In a crossover between Spider-Man: The Animated Series and X-Men: The Animated Series, this is highlighted in a scene where Spidey winds up fighting Danger Room Sentinels.
    Storm: Power of Lightning, strike again!
    Spider-Man: Uh... Power of Webshooters! Get... real sticky!
  • This trope hits Ben hard in Ben 10/Generator Rex: Heroes United. Due to his alien forms having an incredibly huge amount of abilitiesnote  compared to Rex, he ends up having his Ultimatrix hacked by Alpha and not working properly for most of the final act. Considering his main series also had trouble keeping his abilities in check, it doesn't feel out of place.