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Power Loss Depression

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"I was attuned to the planet, man. We were two... but one... Like she was my mother and I was the baby in her belly. I felt the rain seeping through her dirt... the shifts in her tectonic plates... the life force in her, from every ant to every growing seed...I just ... and now... It's like someone threw a bag over my head. Stuffed my ears and nose with cotton.
Rictor, X-Factor (2006) #01

Sometimes, Power Loss Makes You Strong. Other times, it breaks you down.

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This trope is when a character who has been suffering De Powered becomes utterly miserable following the deprivation of their incredible abilities. Whether the character is The Cutie or a Jerkass, the point is that losing cool powers sucks. If the character was born with their abilities, the powers could be seen as comparable to their limbs or senses, hence why the loss hits them so hard.

I Just Want to Be Special is also a factor. May be a result of a Single-Episode Handicap, in which case the character will regain their superpowers at the end. See also Brought Down to Normal.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • All Fall Down is a meditation on grief in the superhero community after all of them lose their powers when they're siphoned away to a teenage girl, who becomes the only superpowered being left. Some handle it better than others.
  • Fantastic Four: Issue #25 of Dan Slott's run has Franklin lose his powers after a fight with an enemy called the Cormorant. Desperate to restore his powers, he tries to enter Krakoa using a special gateway only to find it doesn't work for him. Xavier contacts him and reveals that Franklin was never really a mutant but someone who altered himself to have an X-gene in order to fulfill his subconscious desire to be special. This revelation utterly devastates Franklin who was already moping about being a "normal" person.
  • JLA: Act of God: The story has every single superpowered hero becoming complete wrecks after losing their powers. Particularly sad cases are Superman who becomes drunk and homeless after his relationship with Lois ends; Wonder Woman who nearly commits suicide; and Kyle Rayner who obsessed with Sonar, a villain Kyle failed to stop when his ring was deactivated.
  • In Suicide Squad, Enchantress joined the team with the promise of having her problematic magic brought to heel or removed entirely. However, after a catastrophic mission in which the entity empowering her was destroyed, she took a large revolver and tried to force Nightshade to return her magic. One of Belle Reve's psychiatrists made it clear there's a big difference between voluntarily relinquishing the power and having it unwillingly taken away.
  • X-Men:
    • Storm had her powers accidentally removed by Henry Gyrich with a gun invented by the mutant machinist Forge. It took some time for her to overcome her depression over this, especially since she was in a relationship with Forge before learning he created the weapon that de-powered her. Her journey of self-discovery across Africa in Uncanny X-Men #198 explores how shattered she feels before coming to terms with what happened to her.
    Storm: Once I would have ridden the wind. Now it drives me. The elements I shaped to my have me at their mercy... And always, the wind - my friend, my servant, taunts me with its fury. It howls, it laughs, it mocks my very being. Without me, Ororo, it cries, you are nothing.
    • Warren Worthington III had his wings amputated after they were mutilated by Harpoon, one of Mr Sinister's Marauders, costing him his power of flight. Apocalypse takes advantage of Warren's emotional turmoil over the loss of his wings by offering to give him new wings in exchange for becoming one of his Four Horsemen.
    • Astonishing X-Men: Wing, a student with the power of Flight and one of Armor's friends, commits suicide after Ord injects him with the Mutant Cure.
    • Magneto is left a shell-shocked and broken man at the end of House of M after the Scarlet Witch strips him and the majority of Mutants of their powers.
    • Polaris is among the Mutants who lost their powers during M-Day. Issue #177 of X-Men Volume 2 opens with her lamenting how empty and lifeless she feels without her powers. For a time, she tries to keep her depowerment a secret before revealing what happened to her and leaving the team.
    • The first issue of X-Factor (2006) opens with Rictor about to commit suicide due to losing his powers following M-Day. He is talked out of it but still has his moments of sadness and volatility over it. He regains them via Terrigen Crystals provided by Quicksilver only to lose them again and become even more depressed leading to him having Sex for Solace with Rahne. He almost quits the team because he feels useless as the only one without powers.
    • Downplayed with Professor X. Scarlet Witch restores the world to normal with Xavier once again possessing the ability to walk but he loses his telepathic powers. Xavier likens it to being deaf or still being a cripple but he handles it considerably better than the other examples on this list.

    Film — Live Action 
  • X-Men: The Last Stand:
    • Magneto is injected with the Mutant Cure and loses his powers in the film's climax. His reaction is one of complete horror and despair.
    • Averted with Rogue whose powers were one of the worst examples of Blessed with Suck in the X-Men universe. She willingly took the Cure and is happy that she can touch Bobby without killing him.
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    Literature 
  • Subverted in Matilda, where being put in a class appropriate to her mental abilities results in the loss of Matilda's telekinesis. But as Ms. Honey explains, it was being bored out of her skull that gave her powers, so she doesn't regret the loss because she's finally found something to occupy her brain. In the film she keeps her powers in the end.
  • In The Power, after her father and half-brother steal her skein, Roxy falls into quite the funk over the perceived loss of her ultimate Action Girl persona.
  • The Wheel of Time: people who lose the ability to channel the One Power, which comes with a Power High and an incredible sense of feeling more alive, almost universally succumb to Death by Despair within a year or two. A rare few manage to survive by throwing themselves wholeheartedly into a new cause.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Flash (2014):
    • In "Power Outage", Barry's powers drained by a metahuman named Blackout who can control and absorb electricity. This greatly upsets Barry who had come to see his speed as being a part of him.
    • Barry's powers are drained again in "Versus Zoom" by the eponymous villain. The next episode, "Back to Normal", opens with him feeling depressed about it. Not helping matters is that his friend Caitlin has been abducted by Zoom while Barry was unable to stop him.
  • Downplayed at the end of House of Anubis. Having lost his Osirian powers in a Heroic Sacrifice, Eddie is the only student not shown having fun at the graduation party. He initially refuses Patricia's offer to dance, pointing out she hates dancing and that he isn't a "superhero" anymore when she calls him one. However, he does end up dancing with her as the series ends.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: Rita places a curse on Tommy that will drain away his Green Ranger powers after a magic candle burns out. In order to save the Green Ranger powers, Tommy gives his power coin to Jason the Red Ranger. Feeling he is of no use to the team, a saddened Tommy leaves Angel Grove but returns after the Rangers find a way to preserve his powers through constant recharges. However, Lord Zedd eventually finds a way to drain away all of Tommy's powers causing him to once again quit the team because he feels he has no place among them. Fortunately, he returns as the more powerful White Ranger.
    • Power Rangers Wild Force: Downplayed in the finale. The Rangers are forced to give up their morphers after defeating the Big Bad as their mission is now completed. While they do go on to lead happy, satisfactory lives afterwards, the team isn't happy about giving up their powers and having to disband.
    • Power Rangers Operation Overdrive: The Milestone Celebration episode, "Once A Ranger", has the Overdrive team reveling in the fun of being Power Rangers before being de-powered. Feeling they have nothing to contribute as Rangers, they decide to leave saving the world to the returning Veteran Rangers. However, they find their lives without being Rangers unsatisfactory and they return to action.
  • Averted in Smallville. Whenever Clark loses his powers, he is often happy that he can live a normal life and it's actually regaining them that makes him feel depressed.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Loss". After being exposed to two-dimensional alien beings, Counselor Deanna Troi suffers brain damage that causes her to lose her ability to read the emotions of other beings. She takes this very badly, becoming frightened, depressed and angry. She even decides to resign as Ship's Counselor because she feels she can no longer perform her duties.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock Infinite: In the Burial At Sea 2 expansion, Elizabeth dies and is revived by Luteces but loses her power to access alternate timelines. This results in her feeling very distraught.
  • Shantae: During the third game, Pirate's Curse, the title character is shown to be very upset about the loss of her magic at the end of the prior game and openly wonders if she's nothing without it.

    Western Animation 
  • Legend of Korra:
    • When Tahno the leader of the pro bending Wolfbats team first appears, he is an arrogant and sexist creep who mocks Korra's chances against him. Tahno is shown to be even more despicable when he and his team use blatantly illegal moves against the Fire Ferrets such as freezing and filling up water blasts with rocks, all of which is ignored by the referee. Normally, Amon taking away Tahno's bending would put someone like him in the Asshole Victim category, but Tahno looks so miserable and small afterwards that one cannot help but feel sorry for him instead of reveling in his misfortune. It helps that Tahno does show a nicer side after what happened to him.
    • Despite unlocking her airbending to defeat Amon in the finale, Korra is devastated when he takes away her fire, water and earthbending. Korra needs the power of all four elements to be a fully realized Avatar and with only one element, she is simply an airbender. As Korra had built her entire identity around being the Avatar, this takes a massive blow to her sense of self-worth that not even her love interest Mako can heal. Fortunately, Aang is not only able to restore her full bending abilities but also gives her the power to reverse Amon's De Powering of other benders.
  • OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes has two examples:
    • Dr. Greyman lost his powers when examining some unusual orbs he found in a mysterious laboratory. His lack of powers causes him distress, and his students tease him for it.
    • Laserblast lost his powers by accident when trying to destroy that same lab, which was his lab, which he was using to try to enhance his powers. He continues experiments to attempt to get his powers back or give himself some sort of power, but ends up losing his muscles and eventually turning himself into his current form: Professor Venomous. As Venomous, this trope is zigzagged; in "Big Reveal" he states that he doesn't need powers, but in subsequent episodes he gives up everything trying to obtain power, even merging with or getting taken over by his evil other personality, Shadowy Figure, becoming Shadowy Venomous.
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