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Cyclops is not having a good day.

"You know how some people and animals lose control of their bladders when they're surprised? It's like that, but for lightning."
Just Bugs Me (Archive), Star Wars (on the Emperor's apparent inability to stop using force lightning on himself)
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A character's got an awesome power at their disposal, but there's a catch. Whatever this amazing power is, the character has little or no control over it. Their power seems to go off at random or they can't stop using their powers, even if they want to. This character suffers from Power Incontinence.

Sometimes, a character will just lose control for an episode or two, or have a few accidents while first learning how to use their powers. Extreme emotional situations may cause a loss of control, though, like a pyrokinetic literally Burning with Anger. Sometimes holding your powers for too long as it builds up in your body will also cause an unwanted burst of power. And if your powers somehow have a will of their own, then it may be possible that your powers can simply take over and use you.

Not everyone is so lucky. Many cases are incurable, becoming an integral part of the character. Not to worry, though; many cases can be treated by Training the Gift of Magic. Even if that doesn't work, chronic power incontinence is frequently treatable with some Applied Phlebotinum. You'll have to hold on to that phlebotinum, though, from now on; (try making a snazzy suit out of it). You'll have to depend on it if you want to avoid any accidents or a shorter lifespan.

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Note that this is not always a bad thing for the character, since some powers are better when they don't need to be actively controlled. Having the ability to heal any wound, for example, is awesome when you don't have to consciously activate it — otherwise a severe injury might still kill you if you lost consciousness (from loss of blood, say) before switching it on. However, it is always a lack of the Required Secondary Powers that protects a character from their own powers.

Rarely, the inversed set-up of this trope is used; that is to say, rather than the power being hyper-active from lack of control, they can't get it to work in any way.

Can be one of the ways a character is Blessed with Suck. Compare Restraining Bolt or Power Limiter (common methods of averting this) and Does Not Know His Own Strength (a common result of this). If combined with Shapeshifting, this may result in becoming an Involuntary Shapeshifter, depending on what triggers it and how. A character with this may also have a case of I Just Want to Be Normal or Afraid of Their Own Strength. Sometimes terrifyingly applied with Reality Warping Is Not a Toy. Severe cases may develop into a Walking Wasteland.

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This is the lowest tier of The Law of Power Proportionate to Effort.


Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • A Doritos advert has two people gaining cold and fire power and finding that normal tasks like going the toilet and using deodorant have become problematic.
  • This Skittles commercial combines this with The Magic Touch. Tim has the power to turn everything he touches into Skittles... a power that never turns off. He can't feed or dress himself, he's unable to hold his newborn son, and he mentions that he inadvertently killed someone after shaking his hand. The commercial walks a fine line between Black Comedy and Dude, Not Funny!
    Amazed Man: That's awesome!
    Tim: Is it?

    Audio Play 
  • Everyone who is exposed to the Elysium formula in The Elysium Project has this to some extent. The formula gives people the power to manipulate reality itself, but their powers give them what they want, not necessarily what they ask for, meaning they lose control of their abilities very easily, particularly when they get emotional.

    Films — Animation 
  • The "Sorcerer's Apprentice" scene from Fantasia has Mickey Mouse trying on his master's hat, using his newfound magical powers to animate his broom and have it fetch buckets of water for him. Problem is, Mickey isn't experienced enough with magic to know how to make the broom stop once it's started, and chopping it into pieces with his master's axe only makes things worse, leading to the creation of more brooms with more buckets of water, and poor Mickey soon finds himself in way over his head.
  • Frozen: Queen Elsa can control her powers when she's in a good mood, but if she's afraid or nervous, the results can be disastrous, such as her changing the seasons from summer to winter.
  • The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible frequently breaks things by accident with his Super Strength when he is upset.
  • The titular character in Kiki's Delivery Service suffers an inversion midway through the film when she suddenly can no longer understand her cat, Jiji, or fly on her broom.
  • Miles Morales spends much of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse learning to control his powers, initially being unable to touch anything without sticking to it. It seems to be a common problem with Spider-People, as both Gwen and Peter B. offer the same advice when it happens. Before Miles knows exactly what's happening, he chalks it up to puberty.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1998 Terry Gilliam version):
    • Eric Idle's character Berthold is an extreme super speedster. He wears heavy leg irons to stop himself from dashing all over the place.
    • Adolphus, a super sniper with vision that reaches beyond the horizon, wears thick glasses so he can see things nearby; talk about farsighted.
  • Bruce Almighty: The title character had this at first, mainly due to denying he actually had powers, probably meaning that God was just doing it to convince him. Once he'd accepted that he actually had powers, he had no trouble at all in controlling them. The script however had a few more scenes of the powers apparently acting on their own. One scene would have had Bruce shouting "Damn You!" at an annoying guy at work, causing him to become possessed by a demon, while another scene had him unable to get in the bath, due to involuntarily walking on the water, having to concentrate in order to sink in.
  • In the unreleased 1994 Fantastic Four film Ben can change back to his original form, unlike in the comics, but isn't able to control it and switches forms based on his emotions, only changing back for a short time.
  • In Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Johnny gains the ability to temporarily switch powers with rest of the Fantastic Four by touch, even if he doesn't want to. This causes a problem when he touches Reed at an inconvenient time. During the climax of the film, he touches all of the Fantastic Four at the same time and gets all of their powers, and after this he goes back to normal and loses the power switching ability.
  • Firestarter 2: Rekindled: Shows the now-adult Charlie having a hard time controlling her pyrokinesis, especially when she's excited. After she meets Vincent (who, unbeknownst to her, has been hired to locate her by the Big Bad), they have sex. However, when Charlie notices that a piece of paper is turning brown from the heat, she stops and runs away. Vincent turns on the light and looks up, noticing the blackened ceiling. He immediately calls his client and informs him that he found the girl.
  • Godzilla franchise:
    • Burning Godzilla.
    • Larva Battra had no control whatsoever over his eye-beams.
    • The original 1954 Godzilla had this too, even going near him could poison you with lethal doses of radiation.
    • The 1999 incarnation from 'Godzilla 2000' had this a lesser extent, where he inadvertently fogged photos taken of him.
  • The Invisible Man: Dr. Gryphon's formula made him invisible, but it was irreversible, causing him no end of trouble. (And also drove him insane, a recognized side effect of the drug in the second film.)
  • Man of Steel:
  • Revenge of the Sith: At the ending for, Darth Vader's telekinesis goes berserk after Palpatine tells Vader that he killed his own beloved wife, Padme, by accident, pushing him past the Despair Event Horizon. The entire surgical lab shakes, with the walls buckling and the equipment — up to and including the droid surgeons — imploding.
  • The Ring (American movie adaptation): Samara Morgan is unable to control her ability to project images — whether that's onto surfaces or into people's minds.
  • Scanners: Starts with the hero Mind Raping somebody by accident. So there you go. It's no fun being a scanner. And hearing the thoughts of everyone around you does weird things to your childhood: Vale has no personality, Benjamin Pierce tried to murder his entire family, and Darryl Revok went nuts, drilled a hole in his forehead, and has since gone from self-destructive to simply destructive.
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Sherlock Scan is, at times, presented like this and best demonstrated in the 2009 film when Holmes is doing dinner with Watson and his fiancee Mary Morsten. He is constantly bombarded by voices and unremarkable details of his surroundings filling his mind and can do nothing to silence it besides focus on Mary and attempt to scan her (once he offends her and drives away both of his guests the bedlam of voices returns). Could be interpreted as an Ambiguous Disorder.
  • The Specials: Former villain Amok tells of an incident where he lost control of his power to generate anti-matter particles during an... intimate moment, and in his words, "...next thing I know, I'm holding half an ass!".
  • Suicide Squad: El Diablo is a man with fire powers, who, at the start when he's joined the Squad, is unwilling to use them. At the end, we find out his backstory: he started to lose control over his power whenever he got emotionally upset, and during an argument with wife, where she threatened to leave him, he erupted so badly that he burned down his entire house, killing his wife and children with it -- unintentionally, because he loved them dearly.
    El Diablo: See, when I get mad, I lose control, you know, I just... I don't know what I do.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: Rogue can't control her powers at all, which sucks because she's a Power Parasite who can potentially kill anyone who touches her. She has to wear gloves and can't ever be intimate or close to anyone. Unlike in the comics, she never learns control and instead takes up the mutant cure.
    • X-Men: First Class: Alex Summers / Havok can emit powerful energy blasts, but he can't control their direction. This problem is solved by a special harness, which he even refers to as his "energy diaper" in a deleted scene.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Erik nearly crashes the plane when he's yelling at Charles. Xavier subjects himself to a Power Nullifier because he has lost control over his telepathy.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Scott Summers / Cyclops can't control his Eye Beams when they start manifesting. He has to be blindfolded until he is brought to the Xavier Institute, otherwise he'll destroy everything (and everyone) around him. There, Hank McCoy / Beast creates special filter sunglasses for him, enabling him to control his mutant ability.
    • Logan: In his old age, Xavier suffers from mental deterioration and seizures in which his psychic powers paralyze everyone in the vicinity. It's implied that one of his seizures killed most of the X-Men and injured many of his students in the "Westchester incident".

    Mythology 
  • King Midas is pretty much the Ur-Example of this. Granted the ability to turn anything he touches into gold by the gods (and having the warnings of such a dangerous ability being ignored), Midas at first is elated with the ease he gained further wealth... but his inability to withhold his powers when he deems fit makes it impossible for him to eat without the food turning into gold in his mouth, and ultimately results in his beloved daughter getting turned into gold before he wishes to have the powers reversed and revoked.
    • Other versions of the myth have him get rid of the power by bathing in the river Pactolus. It caused the river to carry gold ever since, which is how Croesus became rich.
  • In The Bible, Seraphim are described as having to constantly conceal their true forms with their wings, lest they incinerate anything that gazes upon them. God Himself has the same problem, but He can work around it by simply not manifesting on the mortal plane or, when He does, assuming A Form You Are Comfortable With (such as a burning bush).
    • In the Bible, there is one story that implies that Jesus of all people had this problem. Jesus apparently involuntarily healed a woman from a chronic bleeding condition when she snuck up behind him and touched the edge of his robe, although he immediately sensed what had happened and asked, "Who touched me?"

    Roleplay 
  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, a group of teenagers are suddenly imbued with superpowers by a Mass Super-Empowering Event. Given their age and the suddenness of the acquisition, many of them struggle to get a handle on their newfound abilities.
    • Zia can't turn off her telepathy, and on more than one occasion has nearly caused serious mental damage to other characters when she lost control of her emotions.
    • Michal is repeatedly shown to be too impulsive and excitable to have control over his power to create fire. This isn't as big of a problem when he's only producing lighter-sized flames, but proves a hassle when he accidentally sets himself on fire.
    • Jessica instinctively uses her Compelling Voice whenever she's angry or upset. Unfortunately for others, that's quite often.
    • Benjy can occasionally lost control of himself and Hulk Out from his regular, humanoid bug form to a giant, mindless monster. This first happened when a group of Neo-Nazis attacked him, and he killed them all in self-defense.
    • Harriet is shown to have poor control over the trajectory of her telekinetically-controlled spear. While played for comedy at first, it takes a turn for the dramatic when she accidentally spears someone in the abdomen and suffers a Freak Out.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Ars Magica, this is treated as a fairly ordinary quirk of apprenticeship in the Order of Hermes, especially if the apprentice in question has an affinity for say, fire magic, or, in the case of Bjornaer magi, if they have a particularly ornery or excitable heart-beast form and haven't learned to shift properly yet.
  • CthulhuTech has this sort of thing with its psychics. Run out of magic points? Don't worry, you can still Cast from Hit Points. You just have a chance of Burning for hours afterwards.
  • Don't Rest Your Head: Those who tap into their Madness Powers discover that losing control means losing control. And those who are particularly stupid or unlucky will discover what happens when you keep pushing your limits.
  • The psionics rules for Dungeons & Dragons include a psychic disease known as Cascade Flu, which causes those infected to manifest all their powers, one after another, with random targets. This can be amusing if you have nothing but, say, the powers that create (but not shoot) arrows out of thin air and let you jump really well, but it can be outright deadly if you happen to have more than one attack power.
  • This can be a problem with one's party if you get the wrong aura effects in Gamma World. Hi-larity will ensue as your party draws and quarters your character for killing Dave The Robot Demon the hundredth time.
  • In GURPS Supers (the GURPS rule supplement that fleshed out superpowers), the point cost to buy individual powers can be reduced if the player accepts limitations on them, for example "Always On" or "Uncontrollable", or takes specific disadvantages linked to it. "Body of Fire, Always On" means the character is a walking fire elemental. "Uncontrollable Telekinesis" manifests as poltergeist phenomena. Telepaths who cannot shut their telepathy off suffer massive distraction and headaches if they are in a crowd. Teleporters may find they're not sleepwalking, but sleepteleporting, with embarrassing or life-threatening results.
  • Hero System: One of the Disadvantages you can add to a Power to decrease its cost is Always On, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • Plenty of Mega-Heroes from Heroes Unlimited have some problem controlling their powers. For example: Hazmat has the powers to control radiation and transform into living plasma. The problem? He can't transform back, meaning he has to permanently stay in a specially designed Hazmat Suit.
  • The "broken" creeds of Hunter: The Reckoning, Hermits and Waywards, suffer from this, among other things. Waywards have their "second sight" always on, meaning they can always see any monsters around them, non-stop, 24/7. Given that every Wayward is on a personal mission to eliminate the supernatural from the world, this does not do much to help their mental stability. Hermits have a constant connection to the Powers That Be; unfortunately, the strength of the connection is so powerful that left unchecked, it would destroy a human mind, so a Hermit's subconscious must suppress much of the connection in self-preservation. The stress of this results in the Hermit suffering permanent and painful mental 'static', which only gets worse around supernaturals and other Hunters.
  • The Marauders of Mage: The Ascension can be divided into two types. One has their perception of the world around them unconsciously warped into a delusion, and act accordingly; the other unconsciously warps the world around them to fit their delusions.
  • The Mad of Mage: The Awakening have had their souls broken, causing their magic to subconsciously leak out into the world.
  • Many other point-based systems allow that as well, such as Mutants & Masterminds or Big Eyes, Small Mouth. "Uncontrollable" comes with a even worse version of this trope where your power is actively malicious toward you.
  • Although it's not necessarily your powers (but it can be), this is how some Afflictions work in Nobilis — they provide a constant stream of miracles whenever the HG thinks they should, but you have no control over which miracles they are or how they are used. One like "My Estate frequently does things in my area without my consent" can lead to much hilarity, although depending on your choice of Estate, this could be anything from randomly inflicting despair on people to the creation of pine cones out of thin air. And you get MP every time an Affliction proves inconvenient to you.
  • This can happen to your character in Tales from the Floating Vagabond if the Game Master feels you're overusing your character's Shtick. A character with the Trench Coat Effect may fall victim to Rummage Fail, while a character with the Escher Effect may find that the laws of physics stop working at the most inconvenient times.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Psykers (psychically sensitive humans) generally can't control their powers... which leads to them usually being hunted down as witches and burned at the stake. Believe it or not, the alternative is actually worse.
    • Ork pskyers, or Weirdboyz, have even less control of their psychic abilities. They generally live apart from the other boyz because the gestalt Waaagh! energy that pervades the Orkish race ends up being vented through the Weirdboy, with negative effects for those around him. In game terms, this means that Weirdboyz must use a psychic power each turn, and the exact ability used is determined randomly. And the power appears randomly, sometimes taking other orks around the Weirdboy off.
    • The Kroot have a Cannibalism Superpower version of Adaptive Ability, allowing them to evolve new traits by consuming the flesh of critters with those traits — eat strong, tough creatures, like Orks, and the Kroot will grow stronger and tougher. The downside is, they can't turn this off, so if they don't eat a balanced diet — and, more importantly, regularly eat the flesh of sapient beings — they'll eventually devolve into mindless animals. The entire animal ecology of their homeworld, Pech, is now based on devolved Kroot.

    Toys 
  • BIONICLE:
    • Some Masks of Power are always active, or are simply too much for a normal being, or even a highly powerful being who lacks experience to handle and use properly. Even regular masks need time and practice, but in the case of organic masks (which are actually soft, pulsating living creatures that latch onto your face), it can take a lot of effort to shut them down, since they have their own mind. The Toa Inika still made good use of them, since the intense light radiation their heads gave off couldn't be turned down.
    • Kongu almost had it worst: he was never able to turn off his Mask of Telepathy (or stop reading minds around him) until he became a Toa Mahri and got another mask.
    • Hahli had it even worse than Kongu. Her Mask of Detection had the power to sense the location of the Mask of Life by giving her headaches, but since she couldn't turn it off, being in close proximity to the Mask of Life eventually became so painful to her that she discarded the Mask of Detection despite the fact that not wearing it meant having a constantly brightly shining head, although this wasn't a problem for long since she and the other Toa Ignika were turned into the Toa Mahri shortly after that.
    • Then there's the Felnas, Mask of Disruption. As the name implies, it causes whomever the wearer targets to lose control of their powers. This works for the Toa's Elemental Powers, their Kanohi masks, and other species' special abilities. As shown with both Krika and Icarax, disrupting powers like intangibility and teleportation is a very efficient way of killing someone. Both met their end after Gorast did just this with the Felnas she wore.
    • This is the reason why the Mask of Time is so dangerous. Not only is the Mask of Time extremely difficult to use, but unlike most masks of power which stop working if they are damaged, the Mask of Time's power leaks if it is damaged. Destroying the Mask of Time or losing control of it could destroy reality by causing a Time Crash. When Vakama tried fighting Makuta using the Mask of Time to slow Makuta down, he failed because it also slowed him down. Later he forced Makuta to agree to a truce by threatening to break the Mask of Time. Tahu tried using the Mask of Time against the Bohrok-Kal, but he had to stop after a short time to avoid losing control, and it did not really help anyway because the Bohrok-Kal were protected by a force field.
    • After the Mask of Time failed, the Toa Nuva defeated the Bohrok-Kal by transferring their energies to the Bohrok-Kal until they had more power than they could control. The one with magnetism power was crushed by magnetized debris, the one with gravity powers collapsed into a black hole, the one with the ability to absorb and release air was launched into space, the one with plasma power melted the ground it was standing on and sunk into it, the one with electrical power was paralyzed, and the one with sonic powers was vibrated into pieces.
    • Voporak, a being that was modified to track the Mask of Time, has a variation on this problem. He had the power to cause Rapid Aging and Make Them Rot. He could turn this power off, but it was always on by default when he was not consciously suppressing it. When he was knocked unconscious during a battle with Teridax, Teridax used this to his advantage by throwing Voporak's boss The Shadowed One into Voporak's unconscious body so that The Shadowed One would be affected by Voporak's aging power.
    • This is also how the Toa Metru managed to defeat the Rahi Nui. The Rahi Nui was a chimera designed to hunt Toa that possessed several powers including a very fast Healing Factor, Size Shifting, the ability to No-Sell and grow stronger from Elemental attacks, and several other powers. After it had knocked out four of the Toa Metru, one of whom would have died if not for a Villainous Rescue, the two remaining Toa figured out that its Size Shifting powers didn't change its mass. So they fed it elemental attacks while it was growing larger so it lost control of its size and grew so large that it evaporated due to its density decreasing as its volume increased. It eventually reformed but with most of its powers gone.
    • Vezon accidentally got himself fused with a mask of dimension gates and began jumping between parallel realities involuntarily.
    • Dalu used a pair of weapons that drain some of the user's energy to temporarily enhance one of a target's attributes beyond their control, such as giving them uncontrolled Super Speed or Super Strength, or far worse, enhancing one of their senses to drive them insane with Sensory Overload.
    • The Mask of Life often gives uncontrollable powers to those who touch it without its permission. Usually this is temporary, although it was permanent the first time it ever did it, when it gave a Great Being the uncontrollable ability to bring inanimate objects around him to life. The Mask of Life itself also has a power that it doesn't have control over. When certain conditions are met, a countdown is started that slowly turns the mask from gold to black, and when this happens all life in the universe will die. When the Toa realize that they do not have enough time to awaken Mata Nui before the countdown is up the Mask of Life chooses to sacrifice its body instead to awaken Mata Nui more quickly. It turns out that the Big Bad knew about this and it was part of his plan. Even if the heroes had known what his plan really was, to steal Mata Nui's body, they still would not have had any other choice than to awaken Mata Nui to keep the mask from killing the universe.

    Video Games 
  • In the original series of .hack R1 Games, overusing Data Drain caused an array of adverse effects to the player. Depending on how much viral infection the player has taken on from using Data Drain, they can suffer anything from status ailments and debuffs to loss of experience points or even suffer a System Error.
  • Partway through BioShock, Jack ingests a dose of an experimental formula in order to undo Fontaine's Psychic-Assisted Suicide Trigger Phrase. However, its side effect causes him to constantly, involuntarily switch plasmids until he finds and ingests another dose.
  • In Bioshock Infinite, Elizabeth was originally going to grow weaker the more you used her powers, but this idea was dumped due to it being impractical.
  • One variant of the "Disease" item in Bomberman causes him to uncontrollably drop bombs. With the charming in-game name of bomb diarrhea.
  • The Carson Extreme Hot Rod in Burnout Paradise. Infinite boost is a pretty sweet deal... too bad there's no way to turn it off. If you can master it, though, it's one of the fastest and most fun cars in the game.
  • In the MMO City of Heroes, an accident suffered during the Rikti War caused the hero Positron's nuclear powers to run constantly, forcing him to spend all his time in his containment suit out of fear of nuking everyone around him. As of Issue 10, though, his powers have gone back to normal, since he was killed when the Rikti invaded again and a teammate resurrected him.
  • In Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, the titular character has the power to briefly look into the past by touching objects imprinted with memories. However, her ability gets extra sensitive if she is emotionally distressed, causing her to involuntary use the power in situations where it is very inconvenient for her.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2: The Seeress of Paddra, a.k.a. Yeul, cannot control her visions of the future, which strike whenever any change occurs to the timeline. The real kicker is that each vision brings her closer and closer to her demise, until one fateful day, she has a vision that kills her. The main character has the same power as well.
  • Freedom Force has Man-Bot, whose Energy-X mutation is much less desirable than those of his teammates. His body constantly builds up volatile Energy-X. He wears a suit of Powered Armor that contains it; without it, he randomly suffers powerful energy discharges that nuke anything in the immediate vicinity... like his brother. It carries over to gameplay as well; even with the armor, any attack that strikes Man-Bot has a small chance of triggering an explosion that damages Man-Bot and anyone close to him. This can be either very good or very bad, depending on whether he's in the middle of the enemy or the team.
  • inFAMOUS: Cole McGrath can't control his ability to Shock and Awe enough to hold a gun, ride in a car, or even swim.
  • K' from The King of Fighters has to wear a special glove to control the flame powers given to him by the Kusanagi DNA, otherwise he can cause explosions without trying. A similar character, Nameless, also has to wear a special glove to control his flame powers: at one point in his backstory he killed somebody accidentally by tapping them on the shoulder.
  • The Unbreakable Darkness from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable : The Gears of Destiny. Merely appearing somewhere causes fluctuations in time and space and creates Dark Piece clones formed from the characters' pasts and even alternate futures. Oh, and the world she's in and everything around it will be reduced to nothing if she ever reaches full power, even though she doesn't want such things to happen. The ending reveals that the Materials and the Tome of the Purple Sky were originally meant to be a Power Limiter system so that she could regulate her unlimited powers, and she's finally able to use them for good once Lord Dearche, the Material of Sovereignty, successfully re-establishes this role of hers.
  • David, the autistic mathematical genius introduced in the Mass Effect DLC Overlord can understand the Geth and talk in their language. Once plugged in the Geth neural network however, he can't block out any of their constant chattering.
  • Psycho Mantis from Metal Gear Solid is constantly reading the minds of those around him unless he wears his gas mask. The popular explanation (which was used in The Last Days of FOXHOUND as well) is that the mask itself doesn't do anything. Rather, it serves as a sort of crutch, like a security blanket or a lucky charm or Magic Feather, that allows Mantis to filter out undesirable thoughts.
  • Colonel Volgin of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is covered in burn scars and wears a rubber suit, making it clear he has little control over the electrical charge in his body. Not that he has much control in the first place. He's also a walking lightning rod and terrified of being struck, and chants "Kuwabara kuwabara" in the rain hoping it will ward it off.
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption has this as a side effect of using Hyper Mode. Sometimes the power meter starts charging on its own, causing a Non-Standard Game Over if it fills. While the usual "treatment" is an Unstoppable Rage, Samus can opt for A-Team Firing if there are no targets nearby.
  • At the end of every set of stages in Mighty Flip Champs!, Alta's magic wand flips the chambers on its own, so she has a very short time to move to a safe spot to avoid getting crushed by the incoming dimensional wall.
  • The same thing happens in the final stage of Mighty Switch Force!, where Patricia's helmet siren activates every few seconds without her input.
  • NetHack characters may acquire (either from certain magic items or from eating corpses) the ability to polymorph or teleport... but at random times, uncontrollably. If you're polymorphed into a strong monster during a tough combat or teleported away from danger, good for you! If you're polymorphed into a sewer rat on dungeon level 15, that's a different matter...
    • And in Ancient Domains of Mystery, may the gods help you if you accidentally teleport out of a shop without paying. Shopkeepers have absolutely no sense of humor.
  • Redeemed Demons from Nexus Clash can channel their guilt and anger at their former evil ways into a powerful holy smiting attack that quickly mows through still-unrepentant demons in a few blows. Unfortunately, the line between good and evil anger is blurry and thus these attacks regularly manifest as an unholy demonic wave of evil instead. Despite having no control over these outbursts, the Redeemed are blamed for them and punished with a massive reduction in the all-important Karma Meter, making their smites a sort of Death-or-Glory Attack.
  • Tracer from Overwatch suffers this. Tracer is Unstuck in Time and needs her chronal accelerator to stay in the present timeline. Without it, she'll glitch out from the timeline and disappear (as seen in the Doomfist Origins Trailer when Doomfist destroyed it).
  • Several Pokémon appear to have this:
    • Pichu is power incontinent. In the video games, this doesn't manifest. In the anime, as well as in Super Smash Bros. Melee, however, it damages itself with its electric attacks, bringing the cute little critter from "outmatched" to "useless".
    • Psyduck constantly suffers from headaches due to it's psychic powers and when the headaches get really bad it can cause an explosion, and when this happens it doesn't remember it.
    • Espurr also. It has enough psychic energy to blast everything within 300 feet of itself, but it has no control over its power. The only way to protect itself and its environment is closing its ears, so that no power can leak out.
    • Darkrai has the power to inflict endless, painful nightmares upon all who draw near it. It also happens to be incapable of turning this power off, so it hides away on a remote, uninhabited island to avoid inadvertently harming people.
    • In Pokémon Sun and Moon, Mega Evolved Pokémon have separate dex entries from their normal counterparts. Most of them imply that the power of Mega Evolution appears to have adverse effects on these Pokémon, which may explain why they cannot remain Mega Evolved indefinitely.
  • The gods Zaros and Seren from RuneScape have the power to inspire loyalty and adoration respectively towards them in anybody who stays around then for a prolonged period of time. They cannot turn this power off and the effect fades away after one is separated from them. Zaros considers this power a curse because it means he cannot tell who is truly loyal to him, and who will turn on him when he isn't around. Zaros and Seren are not immune to each other's power so they avoid each other except when necessary. Mah created them that way to keep the two of them together.
  • Players suffer from this in the intro to The Secret World immediately after they first bond with their Bee. It all kicks off with the PC accidentally setting their clothes on fire just by reaching for them, and within a matter of days, you're blasting furniture across the room, firing Eye Beams into the ceiling and uncontrollably levitating. By day five, however, you've gotten things under control - enough to juggle fireballs at any rate.
  • Some offerings Soul Sacrifice cannot be turned off once they are used, such as armors and evasion spells. It's particularly annoying when you place a golem and get constantly knocked back.
  • Starcraft:
    • While they aren't specifically superheroes, the Terran Ghosts suffer from being unable to not read thoughts of those around them. At least the superficial stuff.
    • And Protoss, especially the higher-level ones, sometimes suffer from extreme excess of psychic energy. High Templar units, for example, are in the manual mentioned to go through conditioning so as to not make heads randomly explode in their presence due to extreme psychic power (and relaxing these mental blocks is the basis for their devastating Psionic Storm ability).
    • In the novel Liberty's Crusade, the title reporter meets Sarah Kerrigan and thinks how great it would be for a reporter to have telepathy, only for Kerrigan to pick up on his thought and simply tell him that it wouldn't be as great as he thinks. In Ghost: Nova, the title character is an extremely-powerful telepath and telekinetic who has yet to learn what she is thanks to her wealthy father carefuly hiding her abilities (any telepath is prompty taken by the Ghost Academy). However, the violent murder of her parents by a terrorist group results in her Mind over Matter abilities to manifest violently in the form of a wave that not only kills anyone still alive in the penthouse but also shatters the glass dome that is supposed to be rated against direct nuclear strikes.
  • A more pleasant example is Nadia Grell, the Consular's companion in Star Wars: The Old Republic. The poor girl might be one of the most powerful telekenetics in a generation. Unfortunately, Force Sensitives (much less Force Users) are unheard of on her planet. Without training, it led to things exploding whenever Nadia got too happy, too sad, too scared, or too angry. Part of the reason her father was so eager to make an alliance with the Republic (and the Consular, personally) was to find anyone who could help his daughter control her abilities.
  • The Hammer and Golden Hammer in the Super Smash Bros. games could be considered this as while very powerful, once you grab one of them, your character will be forced to swing it like a madman until it either disappears with time or gets knocked out of your hands by an attack, unable to do anything but move and jump until then. Getting knocked off the edge almost ensures your demise due to your inability to double jump or use a special, there are certain things you don't want to hit accidentally (Explosives or an Ike or Marth using a Counter Attack), and if you're unfortunate enough to get a defective hammer that's incapable of causing harm, you can't voluntarily dispose of it.
  • This is a risk Force users run in Tales of Rebirth if their emotions start going out of control, usually with negative consequences to the surrounding environment. Veigue, for example, froze his friend Claire accidentally, while Tytree trashed an entire factory within fifteen minutes by causing plants to grow out of control.
  • With its vast and varied Superpower Lottery, Touhou naturally has a few examples of this.

    Visual Novels 
  • Two important examples in Da Capo, though only one really minds. Sakura's magic is highly dependent on her emotions and acts out in ways she wouldn't normally. As a child, her magic would accidentally break people's arms. In the main story, a girl gets a branch dropped on her head in Sakura's route and there are implications that she is accidentally responsible for Nemu's sickness in that route. Kotori is the other example, who often feels fatigued and ill due to constantly reading the minds of others, especially their more negative thoughts or ones in which she is the school idol, not a person.
  • In Fate/stay night, Rider wears a eye visor constantly, not just to hide that she's Medusa, but also the fact that her petrification ability from her eye cannot be restrained. Or if she's in her normal mode, she wears a pair of glasses. The exact same style of glasses as Shiki's actually — they're called Magangoroshi (Mystic Eye Killer) glasses. Seeing as Aozaki Touko is one of the few connections between the Tsukihime and Fate timelines, as she's the one who makes Shirou his artificial body, it's very likely she also made Rider's glasses, as she made Shiki's as well.
  • Anghel Higure from Hatoful Boyfriend has the power to cause everyone around him to hallucinate that they're in a fantasy world of his creation. This can be amazingly useful, especially in cases of brainwashing, which the hallucinations override. However, Anghel himself has no innate immunity to this and cannot turn it off. It's debatable if Anghel's actually aware that he's tripping, especially since he's writing a manga about his fantasy world, but he's convinced that he's a fallen angel.
  • Maya Fey from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney suffers an inversion of this trope at the end of the first game, where she finds herself unable to use her channeling abilities due to a lack of practice.

    In Dual Destinies, this happens to Athena Cykes. This person possesses an extremely acute hearing that allows her to 'read emotions', the downside being that she cannot control it on her own. The headphones she wears are her Power Limiter.
  • In Planets, the purpose of the academy is to teach psychic students how to control their powers.
    • Marin has a harder time controlling her psych than other students because she wasn't born with it. As a telepath, she had to learn to turn it off so she wouldn't hear everyone's thoughts all of the time.
    • Ryuu has trouble controlling his teleportation and runs out of energy quickly due to a heart condition.
    • Kaius doesn't use his powers Pure Energy because it is too dangerous and before he knew how to control them he accidentally killed his mother.
    • In addition to his telekinesis, Lucan also has telepathy which allowed him to unconsciously brainwash all of the girls in the school into loving him. He doesn't like the result.
  • Tantei Opera Milky Holmes: Ellery's power activates without her control, and her power is to activate other people's powers.
  • Tsukihime:
    • Shiki sees lines of death on everything, allowing him to destroy nearly anything with even a butterknife. Shortly after acquiring this effect, he started having nightmares of the world falling apart at its seams and would have gone insane if he had not been given indestructible glasses that block this effect. Using this power anyway puts a strain on his brain and usually gives him headaches when he takes off the glasses. In the manga, he also kills things with a tree branch and his finger nails.
    • On a lighter note, Seo Akira can see the future... sometimes. With the amazing control to know that Shiki will decide on impulse to invite her to chat after lunch. On a plus note, seeing the future doesn't lock it in place for her like most forms of clairvoyance, which also means that the above chat after lunch doesn't necessarily ever happen.

    Webcomics 
  • Ben of Breakpoint City can't control his lightning blasts without the gloves given to him by the superhero organization.
  • The Chosen Four shows Ness loses control of his PSI as a result of emotional trauma, becoming an Unstoppable Rage. Department Store Spook learned that the hard way.
  • In the world that Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures is set in there exists the authors own design of what incubi and succubi are, essentially a race of shape shifting empaths who feed off emotions more than they do souls. Unfortunately for those individuals who mature to a point where this function becomes active without someone in the know to instruct them, these individuals may suffer from crushing migrains due to the influx of constant emotional downpour around them. Thankfully this can be for the most part filtered to allow only the desired emotional energies to flow through 'but' eventually was revealed that despite this the cubi in question will always be 'very' susceptible to the emotions around them such that whatever emotion they may be experiencing at any given time will be kicked into overdrive so that even the slightest bit of anger becomes blinding rage for those who lack restraint.
    • Illusionist Cubi clan leader Diamanika can't stop appearing as the subject of other people's thoughts. This makes introductions awkward (quoth Dan: "Mom?!"), until the new acquaintance can learn what she actually looks like.
  • Demon Hunter Kain: The cause of Zandalee's "hallucinations" is not knowing how to control her supernatural perception, which isn't helped by the drug regimen she was on to help her stop hallucinating.
  • In Draconia Chronicles, Xihanil is shown accidentally setting a table on fire when she's cross about having to work overtime at her old job as a cook at a pub. In a later strip, it's shown that this is endemic to fire dragons, and it was the basis for a Jim Crow law against them.
  • Kili of The Dragon Doctors has such powerful spiritual senses that they went totally out of control when she was a child; she's been branded with magical marks on her face and body that suppress her spiritual vision to keep her from going insane. What remains of her power is still immense, since it turns out these tattoos completely negate the powers of ordinary shamans.
  • Faen in Drow Tales has the ability to feel the emotions of those around her, and at times can control those emotions. Which would be pretty awesome if a) she could turn it off, b) she didn't live in a Crapsack World, or c) she weren't essentially Purity Personified. Eventually, the constant Mind Rape drives her slightly nuts, she accidentally kills off a significant number of people, and she ends up fleeing to the surface world, at which point the main character follows her.
  • Elliot and Ellen from El Goonish Shive experience what is perhaps one of the most literal forms of this possible; to the extent that Elliot is instructed to use his transformation powers in the privacy of a bathroom at every opportunity so as to prevent "accidents." In fact, anyone who gains their magical powers "improperly" will have some form of Power Incontinence until their magic power stabilizes.
  • Summer Mighty in Everyday Heroes has trouble controlling her eye beams.
  • Foxy Flavored Cookie:
    • Pucho has the ability to cause objects to break with a touch but he doesn't have total control of this ability so there is a danger he may harm somebody if he touches them. During his human life as Dante, he once accidentally caused a man's ribcage to explode when he grabbed the man to stop him from harassing Luna.
    • Luna has never kissed anyone because she is a succubus and the first person a succubus kisses dies. Because she is magically bonded to Pucho/Dante, she hopes that if he kisses someone it will count as her first kiss and will free her from this problem. When Pucho does finally kiss Pitika, it causes Luna to turn male and she can't turn back with her shapeshifting. She goes to Tammy for help and she summons another succubus to ask what is going on. The succubus explains that Pucho's kiss does not count as Luna's first kiss but now her body is confused because Pucho spent the night with Pituka and she automatically adjusted sex to be the opposite of Pituka.]]
  • Full Frontal Nerdity has Frank invoke this as GM, with the logic that "Superman was always Superman, he didn't go up in 'levels'." Hilarity Ensues.
    Frank: I'm afraid you'll all have to roll on the "whoopsie" table again.
  • After losing his arm, Dies Horribly from Goblins is bestowed with a shapeshifting magical one, but the new limb also reacts to emotions, making it hard to control, as it will transform into spikes and blades when he is scared. He never learns to fully control it, especially once the arm develops an ultra-violent mind of its own and ultimately has to sever it causing it to transform into an ultra-powerful, mindlessly aggressive, multiplying evil being that sustains itself on the blood of the living.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • Zimmy has Reality Warper powers. They tend to spontaneously manifest by making her nightmarish hallucinations become real. Either that or the power only has one setting; it's really not clear at all how it works, or if the hallucinations are caused by the power or merely coexist with it. Although the point still stands that she can't control it. The closest she can come to controlling it is by sticking close to a Power Nullifier, which is far from a perfect solution. (Especially since her Power Nullifier of choice is subject to human needs like sleep.)
    • When Parley's teleportation ability first manifested, she accidentally transported herself and the group with her into her bedroom. She was not amused. Parley eventually finds out she can control her powers by sticking close to a boy whose power is to organize the disorderly. Whom she already had a crush on. This works out well. Incidentally, he can't turn his power off, either, leading to awkward situations like instantly completing a training simulation without even doing anything.
  • The Intrepid Girlbot:
  • Karin-dou 4koma: Seren is an immortal magician of immense power with a "Spell Booster" predisposition that automatically, drastically boosts any spells she casts, rendering low-level magic impossible without her Power Limiter on.
  • Knights of Buena Vista is a Campaign Comic covering Frozen, and Elsa's player did such insane Min-Maxing that although Elsa counts as a "Living God", she also has a 90% of accidentally casting magic (barring any Power Limiter).
  • Jigsaw Forte from Last Res0rt learns about her Vampiric powers the hard way, right down to having to either learn to control her temper or risk letting her more... visual aspects manifest themselves. She can't turn her mind-reading off, either, which makes her have panic attacks around crowds.
  • Leif & Thorn: The Woman in Black is an excellent secret agent because she's magically unmemorable. To everyone. Including her family and friends. Whether she wants to be or not.
  • In the middle of the "Gackt" arc in Manly Guys Doing Manly Things, Mr. Fish (a Gyarados) learns Hyper Beam. The problem is that once he starts Hyper Beaming, he can't stop. He Hyper Beams Gackt in the face and then runs out of steam.
    Jared: COMMANDER! WE DON'T KNOW HOW TO TURN OFF THE LASERS!
  • Kit Darling in Poppy O'Possum has the power to see matter at the atomic level, as well as potential interactions between substances. Unfortunately, she has no control over this power; she's been functionally blind since she was a young child, and can only manage with the help of special anti-magic glasses. Under normal circumstances, the only things she can see clearly are opossums, who are inherently Anti-Magic.
  • Katia Managan, protagonist of Prequel, suffers this as she learns to control her magical abilities.
  • The "Jareth's cold" arc of Roommates is made of this trope. Every time poor guy sneezed something random magic happened, he even managed to sneeze the creator into the comic.
  • Witches in Serenity Rose have good control over their powers for the most part, but can conjure up creatures in their sleep. Sera creates a monstrous version of a girl she once knew, which results in a hiker losing his arm, and later results in the violent dismemberment of many of the soldiers sent to stop it. Another witch, who never consciously used his powers at all, supposedly created 100 giant fire-breathing metal horses to crush Napoleon's army. He was of course burned alive, being a witch in the 19th century and all.
  • Slightly Damned:
    • Demons have a Berserk form that they can transform into as a last resort in battle, which gives them increased strength at the cost of their sanity and usually results in the demon killing itself from exhaustion or self harm if there is nothing around for them to kill. The protagonist Buwaro was born with a condition where he goes berserk immediately if he is awake and not wearing a magic pendant that suppresses it, as a result of his egg being damaged. Before he was given the pendant as a baby, he had to be kept asleep at all times with magic so he wouldn't go berserk. Rhea learned this the hard way when she stole Buwaro's pendant and he (temporarily) killed her in his berserk form, and would have (permanently) killed himself if Sakido hadn't gotten the pendant back on him. He still felt terrible about killing Rhea even though it wasn't his fault.
    • Buwaro's angel girlfriend Kieri has the ability to turn into a rabbit as a result of a botched curse put on her by a divine guardian. The curse was supposed to trap her in the form of a rabbit, but instead it just gave her the ability to turn into a rabbit, although she frequently turns into a rabbit involuntarily, especially when she sneezes or stays in her angel form for too long. When she reunites with her brother she discovers that he had a similar curse put on him that makes him turn into a wolf, and unlike her, he suffers from involuntary Partial Transformations instead of always switching forms instantly. It is implied that this is because he is forcing himself to stay in angel form too much, because during a fight later on when Kieri is stuck in her rabbit form and has to force herself to change back she manages but keeps her rabbit ears.
    • Jake has a problem with accidentally starting fires.
  • Suihira has Wahida, who has the favour of the water goddess and can summon water from somewhere to wherever she is. Flooding things and cracking bottles. She has very little control over this.
  • Brian from Think Before You Think can't turn off his mind-reading ability.
  • Yeon Yihwa from Tower of God is an immensely powerful fire user, but she is not only physically clumsy, she has at times so little control over her powerful flames that she has a history of being a Team Killer. She is a little insecure about it.
  • One subplot in Wapsi Square involves Shelly's inability to control her sphinx side. She's partially shapeshifting whenever she feels strong emotions, and her instincts are interfering with everyday life.
  • Gail in When She Was Bad does not have a stable set of powers aside from Super Strength.

    Web Original 
  • Moist from Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. He has the power of being absurdly damp, and can't turn it off.
  • Dragon Ball Z Abridged: During the Cell Saga, Goku and Gohan end up training their Super Saiyan abilities to the point where they actually forget how to power down and remain transformed for the rest of the arc. This is in contrast with the original manga, where they stayed Super Saiyan on purpose in order to get better acclimated to the form.
  • Happens to every villainous protagonist during an episode of the season 2 of Flander's Company, because of a malfunctioning invention from Caleb, which has the effect to temporarily unlock Docteur Parker's evil Jekyll & Hyde personality.
  • Silence/Simon from Phaeton can't talk due to his inability to disable his sonic vacuum field.
  • Characters in Roll To Breathe can lose control of their powers if injured enough. This happens a lot to Lightningrod, Davey Doomzone, and post-Max Machine Black Cavalier, who all get blamed considerably and lose a lot of self-esteem for the damage they cause.
  • RWBY: Weiss admits to Winter with frustration that she's struggling to master the Schnee ability to summon ice-forms of vanquished enemies. She spends the whole of Volume 3 failing to summon on command but, when trying to protect Velvet during the battle for Beacon, she accidentally summons the arm and sword of the knight without meaning to. During an Atlesian fundraiser to help the Kingdom of Vale after the loss of Beacon, Weiss loses her temper with a woman who is insulting Vale's plight and her father, who is embarrassed by her outburst. During the altercation, she falls to the ground, accidentally summoning forth the Boarbatusk she defeated in Professor Port's class. The Boarbatusk attacks the woman Weiss was angry with but is stopped by General Ironwood. After her disinheritance by Jacques, Weiss tries summoning again and is able to get it perfectly, showing that her incontinence was most likely psychosomatic.
    • In a later episode, it's revealed that another character suffers from this in the opposite extreme to Weiss. Unlike Weiss who struggles to activate her larger glyphs on command, this character passively radiates misfortune and is unable to turn their power off. While it is incredibly useful on the battlefield, it causes havoc with family, friends and personal relationships. So much so, they spend as little time as possible with their own loved ones to make sure they don't get caught in its effects. The character in question? None other than Qrow Branwen.
  • Played for Laughs in RWBY Chibi. Pyrrha Nikos' magnetic powers are shown going crazy in one skit - Nora calls out to her and scares her, slamming almost every metal object in the kitchen on top of her, causes the rest of Team JNPR to be unable to take a hike because she keeps affecting Jaune's compass, accidentally throwing her spear into their lamp after being startled and being very wary of looking at old VHS tapes.
  • This is a very common problem for anomalous humanoids in SCP Foundation.
    • SCP-053 is a little girl (or at least appears to be one) who drives humans around her violently insane and is apparently immortal and anyone who harms her is instantly killed. She does not even seem to be aware that this is happening.
    • SCP-073 destroys plants and anything made from plants around him. He is also impossible to injure and anyone who tries to hurt him receives the injury in his place. He cannot turn these effects off.
    • SCP-166 is a succubus like humanoid who causes any man who sees her to want to have sex with her so strongly that they will try to rape her, and the effect doesn't always fade way when separated from her. This really sucks for her because she is a devout Catholic.
    • SCP-213 has the ability to vaporize matter, which he does not have total control over. The Foundation theorized that his powers are caused by some kind of parasite when he started growing eyes on his body.
    • SCP-486 is a woman who bleeds snakes instead of blood. She cannot control what the snakes do and they attempt to bite all other humans. Something nasty happens if she has an injury that would cause internal bleeding.
    • SCP-507 will randomly shift to a random Alternate Universe version of Earth, and then shift back to his original universe after a random amount of time. He has absolutely no control over this, so the only thing he can do is carry emergency supplies with him at all times so they'll be with him when he shifts.
    • SCP-1119 absorbs any human who touches him and adds some of their organs to his own. The Foundation discovered him when he absorbed a police officer who was trying to stop him from committing suicide.
    • SCP-2662 is an Eldritch Abomination who suffers from this problem. He unconsciously mind controls humans into forming cults that worship him, and he hates this because he grossed out by his worshipers' behavior. This is because he is going through his species' version of puberty and as he matures he will have more control.
    • SCP-2860 started with just turning any living thing he touched with his hands into marble. Over time this effect got stronger, until contact with any part of his skin or hair turns both living and dead material into marble, including his own dead skin cells. This has caused his so much pain that he now wants to die.
  • The protagonist of the Image Boards quest Shiné Quest is affected by "God's Curse", which causes one to constantly spam the first spell they ever cast. For a god, it's supposed to be the spell that gives them shape (it's not intended as a curse and not supposed to apply to mortals); in Shiné's case, it's "Soft Touch", a White Magic spell that makes the user unable to harm anyone no matter what they do. The constant casting drove her magic power through the roof, making her one of the best white mages in the setting.
  • Trinton Chronicles brings us several mentioned but non-obvious examples.
    • The biggest is Sara who has fire generating powers with the power to ignite and burn whole towns; the catch...she can only control it while awake normally, so when she sleeps or is knocked out everything burns.
    • There are others who have power problems, although mostly minor or often background mentions, the Undergrounder's who have powers that either do not fit, make them difficult to live with, or out right monsters. A main character who suffers from this is Boris who's power of super digging comes from his huge and very sharp claws..which he can't retract or hide in anyway.
  • Hawthorne dorm at Superhero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe has a bunch of people with this problem — it's what the dorm is for. It's especially bad for those who also lack Required Secondary Powers like Frostbite, who manipulates and freezes any water around her but isn't immune to the cold she creates. Diz has a PK field that has a force of over eight tons — and she can't stop it. Everything she touches get hit with eight tons of force. She has to take liquid food (and presumably air) through a special deviser-built nano-tube straw because her forcefield keeps everything out, so she hasn't had solid food since her powers came on.
  • Most of the Main cast in When the Hunting Party Came have this problem due to being forcefully injected with a Super Serum.

    Western Animation 
  • Occurs in Avatar: The Last Airbender with Aang's Sneezes of Doom, with a variety of "oops" levels including accidental blown roofing. Aang also has the problem of reflexively entering the Avatar State whenever he's under emotional duress. When he does, duck and cover. Should you happen to be the focus of his wrath, put your head between your knees and kiss your butt goodbye.
    • Early in the first season, Katara suffered from Power Incontinence while she was learning how to Waterbend properly. When she gets flustered or angry, her subconscious Bending is strong enough to split building sized icebergs, but once she gets some proper training near the end of the season she quickly becomes a Waterbending master.
  • Batman Beyond:
    • Ian Peek from the episode "Sneak Peek" gets his hands on an experimental belt that allows him to pass through walls. Repeated use renders the belt unnecessary, but unfortunately for Ian, without the belt he's not up to the task of regulating when and what he passes through. Guess what happens.
    • Derek Powers a.k.a. Blight, the Big Bad for season 1. Powers became a Walking Wasteland in the show's beginning. He managed to pass for human by applying a fake skin; however, it degraded after time. Anyways, as Batman continuously foils his schemes, Powers undergoes a season-long Villainous Breakdown which causes the fake skin to degrade even faster; eventually, his temper means that the skin wastes away too quickly for him to continue running his corporation. He then undergoes a rather literal Superpower Meltdown, though it's implied he might've survived.
  • In the first episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Blue Beetle has trouble controlling his suit and accidentally creates a wormhole.
  • In Ben 10, Ben's NRG form is made of Pure Energy, with control over fire and radiation. Unfortunately he has to stay encased in a special suit of armor, or the people around him can develop radiation poisoning.
    • Ben in general himself suffers from this, as at times the Omnitrix would give Ben something other than the form he had in mind.
  • Combo Niños: In one episode, Diadoro and Gomez released a Divino who had the power to turn into anyone who touches him, regardless of the Divino wanting it to happen or not.
  • The title character of Danny Phantom has this problem, especially at first. Even later, hormones and extreme emotion cause his powers to bleed over to his human form, although limited to glowing eyes (when angry) or bouts of invisibility/phasing (particularly when around an attractive girl). He also had a hard time learning to duplicate.
    • His two strongest powers repeatedly gave him problems. His Ghostly Wail would use up all his ghostly energy and cause him to revert back to his human form after using. When he first manifested his ice powers, they caused him to feel like he was freezing, to the point where he eventually was. All of these problems were solved by the end of the series and he was in complete control of his powers.
    • One episode has Danny's classmate being infected by ghost mosquitos that give each of them a random uncontrollable ghost power.
  • In one episode of The Fairly OddParents! Cosmo begins uncontrollably shapeshifting into harmful objects due to an organ going bad. The only way to cure this condition is to surgically switch the bad organ with the respective good one from Cosmo's Anti-fairy, who is uncontrollably turning into good things because of it. Timmy, Wanda, and Cosmo have to break Anti-Cosmo out of prison so they can get the surgery done to cure them both.
  • Justice League:
    • In the "Only a Dream" episode, John Dee a.k.a. Doctor Destiny traps several members of the Justice League in their worst nightmares. Three of them have nightmares related to Power Incontinence. The Flash gets stuck in Super Speed mode so that Time Stands Still for him. John Stewart's concerns that his new powers as a Green Lantern have permanently altered and isolated him from humanity are taken to an extreme (poor guy literally cracks up as Green light bursts out of his body!). The worst is Superman. His powers go out of control and he accidentally kills the people closest to him.
    The Flash: I've always been afraid this would happen. I'm gonna live out my whole life in the time it takes you to tie your shoelaces! Somebody! Say something! (curls up in a fetal position)

    Green Lantern: Come back! Why are you all running? What are you afraid of? (as his friends and neighbors all run away when they see him)

    Superman: I started out with no power at all. Then I kept getting more. What if it never stops?
    • On a side note, Dee didn't do this to Hawkgirl. He just took advantage of her claustrophobia and trapped her in a nightmare where she was Buried Alive.
    • In a later episode, Flash pushes his powers to the limit to take down a particularly tough foe (who's just wiped the floor with the rest of the League)... and then discovers he can't slow down. If not for The Power of Friendship, he'd have been lost in the Speed Force forever, and says outright that he can never do that again.
    • Likewise, J'onn tries to extend his telepathy to all of Metropolis in order to do a quick scan for Lex Luthor in "Tabula Rasa." He finds him... and then gets flooded with the private thoughts of all of Metropolis, and finds he can't shut off the flow.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the episode "The Cutie Mark Chronicles", Twilight Sparkle flashes back to her entrance exam for Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns. In the course of taking the test, she taps into her latent magic for the first time and ends up accidentally leaking magic all over the place, turning her parents into potted plants, among other things.
    • A milder example occurs in "The Ticket Master" when, accosted by a crowd of ponies who want her ticket to the Grand Galloping Gala, Twilight Sparkle unexpectedly teleports herself and Spike away to the library. Twilight is merely surprised, but Spike ends up shocked... rather literally.
    • As her Sanity Slippage gets worse in "Lesson Zero", she starts to Teleport Spam without even apparently realizing it during the picnic with her friends.
    • During the events of "The Cutie Pox", Apple Bloom steals some of Zecora's ingredients to brew a potion that could finally grant what she desires the most: a Cutie Mark. The problem is, the potion effect doesn't stop at one and keeps giving her an infinite number of Cutie Marks (every new Cutie Mark gives her a new special ability, to boot) and Apple Bloom neither can turn them off or stop using her new abilities. Eventually, her body ends up acting on its own, without stopping to rest or sleep while Apple Bloom desperately begs it to stop.
    • The existence of "Princess Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns" and "Magic Kindergarten", which are entirely separate schools for unicorns focused on teaching them to control their powers, imply that power incontinence is a fact of life for all unicorns, at least in early childhood. Confirmed when, after the Cake twins are born, Rarity warns the parents that baby unicorns are prone to strange, unpredictable bursts of magical energy.
    • In Three's A Crowd, Discord's Blue Flu messes with his reality warping powers and makes crazy things happen every time he sneezes. He's faking it, though.
    • In "Twilight's Kingdom - Part 2", Twilight has trouble performing even the most basic magic after the power transfer, blowing up the door to the Golden Oaks Library simply by trying to open it and briefly teleporting to random spots all across Equestria. It isn't until Tirek comes after her that she gets a handle on her power, if only because she's no longer trying to hold it back.
    • In "The Crystalling - Part 1", we're introduced to baby Flurry Heart, Shining Armor and Princess Cadence's child... who is a born alicorn. Remember the warning Rarity gave? This one takes it Up to Eleven - sneezes that blow holes in the wall and a wail that shatters the Crystal Heart.. They have to put a Power Limiter spell onto her once everything is settled.
    • Starlight Glimmer explains her greatest magical feats were accomplished by turning angry emotion into powerful spells in "All Bottled Up". Thus, if she becomes upset enough to generate those feelings but doesn't have a spell she can focus it into, the magic simply escapes from her horn as a violent red storm cloud. If allowed to roam around, this will infect other ponies with a Hate Plague of her negative feelings so she has to stuff it away in a physical container to prevent that.
    • In the short "Ail-icorn,'' Twilight's spring allergies mix badly with her alicorn powers and cause uncontrollable blasts of magic from her horn whenever she sneezes. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Generally averted with Popeye, who can maintain control well under the influence of spinach. However, in at least two shorts Popeye force-feeds Bluto spinach, who then proceeds to lose all control and involuntarily and senselessly beats Popeye up (in both shorts, Bluto has reasons for not doing so).
  • Sofia the First: Winter the faun freezes anything and anyone she touches even if she doesn't want to.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, the Villain Of The Week Max Dillon (Electro) gets electrocuted in a Freak Lab Accident; this being a version of the Marvel Universe, he starts constantly emitting electricity, and has to wear a protective suit at all times so other people won't be hurt. Even so, his power leaks out - he can't watch TV, lighting arcs out of his hands when he's upset - and he can't even eat without zapping something. By the time he gets into a supervillain teamup, of course, he's managed more control.
  • In the Spider-Man: The Animated Series second season storyline, "The Neogentic Nightmare", the web-slinger's powers start turning on and off at the worst possible times, an act which lead Spidey to run to the X-Men for help at one point. Ultimately, it was revealed that it was his body trying to morph him into a monstrous Man-Spider.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Princess Star Butterfly doesn't have a perfect handle on her magic wand when trying to use it for non-combat purposes. She often causes things she's trying to affect to burst into flames or turn grotesque. The series starts with her being sent to Earth so that she can learn how to control her magic somewhere where she can't cause problems for her family and subjects.
  • In the Static Shock episode "Sunspots", the titular hero begins to lose control of his electromagnetic abilities after being exposed to sunspots. Sometimes his abilities cease to work altogether, while other times, he becomes overpowered to the point that he almost harms those around him.
  • Steven Universe:
    • The title character has trouble activating, and controlling, his powers. He is a child as well as being part human, though, and controlling his powers is suggested to be something he can learn.
    • He's showing signs of learning to control his powers; particularly being able to "bubble" objects as of "Monster Buddies", and intentionally summoning his weapon, a shield, in both its regular and spherical forms in the two part "Mirror Gem/Ocean Gem"
    • The show actually has several episodes whose plot consists of him discovering a new power but not being able to control it at first, such as "Cat Fingers" (for shape-shifting) and "Steven Floats" (for super-jumping and slow-fall).
    • His inability to control his powers nearly kills him in the episode "Too Many Birthdays" when he starts changing age uncontrollably and almost ages himself to death. In a later episode he tries to do the same thing again on purpose to make himself older but isn't able to maintain it and ends us temporarily regressing himself into a baby.
    • Ruby and Sapphire have fire and ice powers respectively that can go out of control when they are feeling strong emotions. The two seem to cancel each other out when they are fused.
    • When Steven communicates with the cluster he convinces it to stop forming because it would destroy the earth, but it is unable to stop itself from forming, so Steven gets it to put itself in a bubble so it cannot form. When the bubble is later popped by the diamonds, it has gained control of itself and only forms a single arm to help fight the diamonds.
    • Padparadscha has the ability to predict things that already happened. She doesn’t seem to be able to turn this power off so she has a Delayed Reaction to everything.
    • Fusion can happen accidentally, not just to Steven but to normal gems too. Many first time fusions have happened accidentally, and there have been a few causes of fusions occurring at inconvenient times.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Raven's and Terra's powers fluctuate according to their level of emotional stability.
    • Starfire is allergic to metallic chromium, and sneezes starbolts. Which should mean she'd be doing it almost constantly, as chromium is something you'd run into all the time a modern setting.
    • In the episode where Raven and Starfire end up in each other's bodies they have a lot of difficulty with each other's powers. Both of their powers are controled by emotions but in different ways. Raven has to suppress her emotions to keep them from going out of control, which causes a problem when the very emotional Starfire is in her body, and Starfire needs to feel strong emotions in order to activate her powers, and so Raven has to let out the emotions she normally suppresses to use them.
    • "Snowblind" introduced Red Star, essentially the Soviet Captain America, and a crapload more powerful. Problems arose when it was revealed that his body periodically discharges a highly corrosive and dangerous plasma like substance, as well as deadly amounts of radiation. In a true Tear Jerker moment, Red Star was revealed to have lived in exile his whole life in a compound built to contain him after he accidentally destroyed half of his hometown.
    • Beast Boy tends to change shapes randomly when he sneezes, such as in the episode when he caught a cold.
  • Occurs in Transformers Animated when Sari gets in touch with her heritage and ends up with more power than her system and low level of control can safely handle, causing her to go on a rampage. It was even lampshaded.
    Bulkhead: Maybe you should try holding it in!
    • She tried, then damn near exploded. Lose/lose.
  • In The Venture Bros., Cody Impossible has the power to turn himself into a human torch but lacks the Required Secondary Powers to either turn it off or be immune to the pain of being set on fire. Any amount of time he spends awake and in a normal oxygenated atmosphere is an unending torment of unimaginable pain.
  • Duman in Winx Club eventually becomes sick and has trouble controlling his powers. This indirectly leads to his death.
  • A second season episode of W.I.T.C.H., "U is for Undivided", has Cornelia's younger sister Lillian began to manifest her Heart of Earth powers, making her as powerful as Elyon. Without even knowing it, she gave her cat Napoleon the ability to speak, and transformed her family's apartment building into a medieval castle. The girls and Matt had to arrange a complex plan to get Lillian to unknowingly pass off her powers to Matt, Mr. Huggles, and Napoleon, keeping the girl Locked Out of the Loop about her abilities until she reached the age where she'd be able to handle her powers responsibly.
  • X-Men: Evolution:
    • Spyke slowly gained this problem. In the third season, he had increasing trouble retracting his spikes, to the point where he simply couldn't do so. Then he was Put on a Bus via making him join the Morlocks... until the fourth season, where his spikes had grown into full-blown bone armor he couldn't remove.
    • The episode "Power Surge" does this to Jean, who progressively loses her hold on her telekinesis and telepathy until she collapses.
    • Rogue went even wilder when all the personalities and powers she had absorbed resurged and caused her to flip out. It was even worse than in her first episode, when she could barely handle the sudden awakening of her powers and then absorbed those of Storm of all people....
    • In the third season, Cyclops once was kidnapped and then dumped in a small Mexican town by a vengeful Mystique without his glasses or visors. Guess what happened.

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television with baby skunks. Adult skunks can control when they release their scent (and usually give plenty of warning before they resort to it, because it does take a lot of energy to produce). Baby skunks, however, don't have the necessary control over their scent glands yet, in much the same way other infants suffer from regular incontinence.
    • Similarly, it has been observed that venomous snakes will inject different doses of venom in different situations, using more to defend itself from a predator than it would use in capturing prey, for example. Many biologists believe that young snakes are less able to control the doses they deliver than adults; making it that much harder to treat the victims of bites from younger snakes.
  • Nuclear power plants basically have two settings: On and Low. After a scram they still produce significant amounts of heat, and there are many systems to remove this heat. When you are unsure about the state of these systems, you get Three Mile Island. When they are smashed to bits, you get Fukushima Daiichi.

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