Follow TV Tropes


Power Stereotype Flip

Go To

Geras: For a cryomancer, you run hot.
Frost: My well of hate runs deep.
Geras: Deep enough for you to drown in it.

Personality Powers are useful shorthands for characterizing superpowered individuals. However, given how widely used they are, some creators will invert Personality Powers and give their characters personalities entirely opposite from what is expected given the superpowers they have in order to make them unique (also see the Four-Temperament Ensemble).


There could be an in-universe reason regarding the logistics of their superpowers — for example, one might expect a character with a flashy, highly destructive superpower to have a bombastic and excitable personality to match, but they are logical and cool-headed to mitigate potential damage. They may also be rejecting the way the superpower is traditionally taught. Occasionally, a proper-looking case of Personality Powers may involve the character having Hidden Depths, where their true personality is the opposite of the power they're using. The reverse may also be true. And sometimes it is based on their personality, but in a non-intuitive way; a Hot-Blooded water user might simply be a manifestation of a stormy sea.

Some examples of inverting Personality Powers include:

  • The Four-Element Ensemble:
    • Dishing Out Dirt: Since earth as an element is associated with sturdiness and steadfastness, its user could instead be flighty, temperamental and indecisive.
    • Advertisement:
    • Making a Splash: Water users are traditionally flexible, patient, and nurturing; characters to whom this trope applies could be Hot-Blooded and impatient. The same goes for An Ice Person, who is usually as cool as a cucumber.
    • Playing with Fire: Fire users are usually characterized as Hot-Blooded and excitable; thus, inverting that makes these characters stoic and cool-headed, though they may still be warm-hearted.
    • Blow You Away: Wind users are often cheerful, free-spirited, hyperactive, and carefree; inverting this personality can make them somber, serious, and slow. This can also apply to those with Shock and Awe, who usually tend to be about as calm as a kid on a sugar rush.
  • Physical powers:
    • Super Speed: An extremely fast individual is methodical and patient instead of being impulsive and twitchy.
    • Super Strength: Usually characterized as Boisterous Bruisers who rely on brawn more than brains, flipping this on its head could make them intelligent and timid.
    • Advertisement:
    • Invisibility: Often a power given to shy and meek characters, this can be inverted by making them outgoing and gregarious.

And so on.

Super-Trope of Fiery Stoic. Compare Bad Powers, Good People and Good Powers, Bad People (when it's the morality at odds from what is expected from the powers), Stereotype Flip (when someone looks or acts contrary to some other non-power stereotype), and Square Race, Round Class (when someone's race and class are at odds).


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure in general loves playing with this trope:
  • Lyrical Nanoha:
    • Fate Testarossa-Harlaown has lightning magic and is the Fastest Thing Alive, yet she is calm, motherly, and something of a Shrinking Violet.
    • Reinforce Zwei is far more outgoing and cheerful than one would normally suspect from an ice mage.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Protagonist Izuku, as well as All Might, have Super Strength and agility but are both very intelligent and, if anything, prone to overthinking in a fight.
    • Bakugo is much smarter and more creative with his Quirk than one might assume, though otherwise his power perfectly matches his personality.
    • Iida has Super Speed, but is cautious and uptight rather than impulsive and goofy. Even his decision to track down Stain was done in a calculated manner, at least until they met.
    • Despite Toru Hagakure being literally invisible, she is not shy or introverted at all, and is instead very outgoing and unabashed.
    • Yoarashi Inasa has wind powers, but is extremely Hot-Blooded.
  • One Piece:
    • Unlike most other Barrier Warriors in fiction, Bartolomeo is not particularly protective or stolid. Instead, he's one of the biggest Trolls in the Grand Line and just generally an extremely unpleasant person that will gladly get a rise out of everyone he meets (except Luffy, who he admires). Amusingly this is an entirely valid take on the power's effect on personality, too; he can deflect any and all consequences of pissing everyone off, so he has no incentive to stop.
    • Kanjuro has the power to bring to life anything he draws. Normally, this is associated with talented artist types, and while he has all the passion for drawing expected of someone with this power, he has very little talent for drawing. The result is Kanjuro always being surrounded by badly drawn creatures, all of whom want to be killed, or at least reverted back to an inanimate drawing once their tasks are finished. Subverted when it turns out it was all an act: Once Kanjura reveals himself as The Mole, he reveals he's capable of making perfect drawings with his powers.
  • In Soul Eater, Black Star is a loud Boisterous Bruiser who is constantly handing people autographs they don't want. He's also a trained assassin whose soul resonance powers involve manipulating shadows and darkness, makes extensive use of Chain Pain, and has demonic imagery associated with his ultimate attack.
  • High School Dx D:
    • Rias Gremory is one of the most powerful and influential Devils hell has to offer, with the ability to destroy matter with her unique magic. She's also a mother to her peerage and one of the most family-oriented people you'll meet. Turns out this runs in the family.
    • Koneko is a tiny girl and a Nekomata. Instead of catlike speed and grace, she's the group tank.
    • Riser Phenex has the phoenix-like powers you'd expect. Instead of some symbol of enduring nobility, he's an over-privileged Jerkass who folds like a cheap suit the first time an opponent actually gets one over him. he starts to fit better with time, though (not least because his family aren't keen on him warping their reputation.)
  • The Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood anime has a Canon Foreigner character who has ice powers and behaves more like the typical fire/mad bomber type.
  • The Paper Masters of the Read or Die franchise are typically compulsive Bookworms. However, Anita of R.O.D the TV outright hates books.
  • This comes up fairly often in Hunter × Hunter. Since characters get to choose their powers (albeit sometimes with drawbacks), having a character seemingly at odds with his or her power is more of a sign of Hidden Depths:
    • Biscuit usually fights via sheer brute force—depending on what form she's taken, she is either a Pint-Sized Powerhouse or a Brawn Hilda. Most who have seen her in battle assume her powers revolve around gaining strength. Instead, her power is the rather odd choice of allowing herself or someone else to get eight hours of sleep in only one hour. It is quite useful, and it's not hard to figure out how she can get stronger this way, but a non-combat power is not what anyone would expect, including the main characters.
    • Knuckle dresses like a Japanese Delinquent, is a poor strategist, is loud and forceful, and has a muscular physique. Everything points to him being Dumb Muscle until he whips out his power: the ability to lend others strength, but with interest that's added every ten seconds, and once the principle and interest together exceed the opponent's total strength, they are drained of all their power. This requires Knuckle to know exactly how much power he's "loaned" to his opponents and calculate, every ten seconds, how much interest they've accrued, meaning he has to be very good at on-the-spot mental math. He also has to be good at estimating the total strength of his opponents without getting distracted.
    • Leol is an angry, brutal guy and is one of the villains in this series with little to no redeeming qualities. However, in order to activate his power, he first has to do a favor for that user. Considering he would rather tear his opponents apart than blend in and try to look friendly, this is something he wouldn't willingly do otherwise.
    • Shiaipouf is introduced as a calm, cool-headed Bishounen who enjoys looking classy and even plays the violin. His powers, however include scattering dust that Mind Control people who breathe it in and splitting into Fun Size versions of himself that he uses to spy on others, indicating he constantly seeks approval from others to feel comfortable.
    • Alluka is a child, about grade-school age. Despite her not coming across as a genius in any way, she has arguably the most complicated and well thought out power in the entire series, with at least a dozen rules covering various scenarios. An entire Story Arc is spent with both the good guys trying to save her and bad guys trying to exploit her attempting to figure out all of these rules to avoid bringing danger to themselves.
    • Played with and deconstructed with Cheetu, whose power allows him to bring an opponent into a Nen-space enclosure with the only means of escape being to catch Cheetu within eight hours. Cheetu is extremely fast, so the the power appears to work in his favour, but as Morel points out, it actually relies on patience and a long attention span, which Cheetu lacks, and there's no incentive to catch him since no one knows what will happen when the time limit runs out. Morel defeats Cheetu by refusing to play, thus losing the Chimera Ant's interest and giving him the opportunity to use his own power to ensnare Cheetu without a struggle.

    Comic Books 
  • Barry Allen, The Flash of the Silver Age, is a speedster with a slow-and-steady personality.
  • Bobby Drake, "Iceman" of the X-Men, is An Ice Person but is usually pretty hotheaded and extroverted. Some writers have argued that this is actually appropriate for his powers; while not cold, he's transparent.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: Played With. Taranee's and Cornelia's powers don't seem like straightforward fits, but Yan Lin explains that their powers suit them despite this. Taranee, the Guardian of Fire, is level-headed and analytical, but this makes her reliable enough to be trusted with it. Cornelia, the Guardian of Earth, is temperamental, but since she uses hard logic, it's a good fit.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Invisible Boy from Mystery Men is energetic and outgoing, unlike the shy stereotype.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Cloak & Dagger (2018): Tandy, who runs from every situation and never believes anyone has any good in them, gains the powers to manifest light daggers and see the hopes and dreams of whomever she touches. Tyrone, who attacks first and has trouble understanding how people can be cruel, gains shadow teleportation and the ability to see fears. They even note that if Tyrone had gotten Tandy's daggers he would have already killed someone, and if Tandy had gotten Tyrone's shadows she would be long gone.
  • In The Flash (2014), scientist Caitlin Snow has a superpowered persona named Killer Frost who can control ice. Instead of being composed, cool, and collected, Killer Frost is bold, temperamental, violent, unpredictable and impulsive.
  • Nowhere Boys: Jake Riles, an ex-Jerk Jock, has the element of earth. But he has a Hair-Trigger Temper, becoming a Foil to his friend Felix Ferne.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Silver Age Sentinels has "Officer Prometheus", an NYPD Super Cop who can be described as "the mentality of Captain America with the powers of the Human Torch". He is one of the most calm, approachable and humble men amongst the "signature characters" in sharp contrast to his capacity to set a city block on fire with a wave of his hand.
  • Enforced for Fire-Aspect Dragon-Blooded in Exalted. They are prone to being Hot-Blooded, but since that is entirely unacceptable in a society based on order and hierarchy, they are under especially much pressure to develop respect and discipline, making them even more rigid and controlled than other Dragon-Blooded.

  • The Piraka in BIONICLE seem to be based in part on this trope, with each member in some way inverting the traditional stereotype of their element. The most obvious is probably Vezok, who is associated with Water. Normally, Water characters in the franchise are calm and subtle, with good ones being kindly and empathetic, and evil ones being slippery and calculating. On the other hand, Vezok is a psychotic brute with a Hair-Trigger Temper who is constantly filled with barely-restrained loathing for everything around him.

    Video Games 
  • In Chrono Trigger, the Hot-Blooded outgoing Marle has ice powers, while the calmer more introverted Lucca uses fire. They were originally going to have elements that more appropriately lined up with their personality types, but they got swapped at some point in development; hence Marle has fire powers on the cover art.
  • Karis of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn is a Wind Adept, but whereas most Wind Adepts are calm, intelligent mystics, Karis is instead a Hot-Blooded Tsundere more akin to a typical Fire Adept.
  • The King of Fighters:
    • Kyo, who uses fire powers, is initially appropriately Hot-Blooded and full of himself, but as the game goes on he becomes more mature and laidback. His father Saisyu is Older and Wiser while also having fire powers. Ash Crimson in a later story is downright cunning and calm, almost never raising his voice, despite also having fire powers.
    • Kula Diamond has ice powers but is an outgoing, fun-loving, somewhat immature teenager.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mino Magnus from Mega Man Zero 4 is a lightning user, but unlike his fellow lightning user Pegasolta Eclair, Magnus is slow both in thought, speech and movement.
    • Mega Man ZX: Purprill, one of the holders of the Biometal Model P, is a hyperactive Manchild. By contrast, Model P itself (as a sentient artifact) is appropriately stern and solemn like a ninja.
  • In Octopath Traveler, Alfyn uses ice magic by default but is friendly and Hot-Blooded, while Therion uses fire by default but is cold and standoffish.
  • Mortal Kombat has Frost who is mentioned in the page quote. Like series regular Sub-Zero, Frost has ice powers but where Sub-Zero is patient and stoic, Frost is hot-tempered, arrogant and impulsive. It is heavily implied that these flaws have hampered her development and they have led her to betray Sub-Zero in two separate timelines.
  • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl:
    • The Ice-type Pokemon Gym Leader Candice is a peppy, tomboyish young girl with a fiery personality who openly wonders out loud if she should cultivate an "Ice-Type" personality, aloof and cold.
    • The Water-type Gym Leader Crasher Wake is a completely crazy, over-the-top madman who wears a mask—AT ALL TIMES—demands that people call him Crasher Wake, and donates to charitable causes in his free time.
    • Most Ghost-type trainers are weird, anti-social people—possessed mystics, mediums, psychics, and the like. Fantina is a beautiful, vivacious woman who has her Pokemon compete in beauty contests, nicely tells trainers who are way too weak to battle her that they can't face her now and should come back later, and happens to have gotten into Pokemon as a kind of hobby she turned out to be good at. She is also foreign to the main country—apparently, Dark is French.
    • Volkner, the Electric Gym Leader, who's quiet and withdrawn even after you motivate him to actually fight you.
    • The remakes of Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire play this with regards to the leaders of the two evil teams. Maxie, the leader of Team Magma and a user of Fire-type Pokémon, is cold and analytical; Archie, the leader of Team Aqua and a user of Water-type Pokémon, is a Large Ham Boisterous Bruiser.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Series Mascot Jack Frost is obviously An Ice Person, but it is very cheerful and playful, adding a "-ho!" at the end of each sentence.
    • Digital Devil Saga:
      • In spite of him being a wind user, Gale is The Spock, completely incapable of understanding emotions and operates solely based on logic. Even after his Character Development, he remains coolheaded and subdued, with moments of emotion - usually anger - being few and far between.
      • Lupa is perhaps the most powerful fire user in the duology, but he is always calm and dignified even when having suddenly a knife at his throat.
      • Heat, whose abilities are Exactly What It Says on the Tin, while usually a Fiery Redhead, enters a stage of Tranquil Fury during Berserk Mode.
    • There is hardly anyone in Persona 2 whose abilities match their personalities.
    • Persona 4: Both Chie Satonaka and Teddie have ice powers, but they both are cheerful and friendly, with Chie being Hot-Blooded and Teddie being very optimistic.
  • Cirno from Touhou is an ice fairy with a Hot-Blooded Boisterous Weakling character you'd normally expect from a fire user.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dragon: Jake Long has the oracle twins, Kara and Sara, who both have randomly occurring visions of the future. One is a dour Goth who can only see the good things about to happen while the other is a perpetually sunny Pollyanna who can only see the bad things about to happen. This is actually explained in the show as the former having all the joy sucked out of life since every good surprise is spoiled for her ahead of time, while the latter can't help but be happy since every second the horrible things she sees aren't happening is absolutely fantastic in comparison.
  • The Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise:
    • Avatar: The Last Airbender usually plays the stereotypes rather straight, but has some exceptions.
      • Zuko's Uncle Iroh is calm, level-headed even in fights, and tends to laze off whenever he can. He is also one of the best firebenders in the world.
      • Toph Beiphong is a master earthbender with the stubborn personnality that usually goes with it, but she's also very quick to anger.
    • The Legend of Korra flips a lot of the stereotypes that its predecessor used.
      • Korra grew up in the water tribe but is fiery, passionate, and aggressive, while waterbenders are usually associated with patience and flexibility. That said, there's a reason she defaults to fire early on as her combat element of choice, even if she's the waterbender for her pro-bending team.
      • Korra is also the Avatar, which imbues her with powers to connect to the spirit realm, as she is meant to act as a mediator between the realms, but unlike her predecessor, her spiritual sense is very low and she is not at all naturally diplomatic. She eventually develops these skills over time, though.
      • Master Tenzin, son of Avatar Aang and heir to his legacy as the (no longer) last airbender, starts the series as Korra's stiff, humorless stick-in-the-mud mentor figure, borne down by the weight of his responsibilities. This is in direct contrast to his father, who spent the predecessor series as a happy-go-lucky Cheerful Child, and whose hundred-year disappearance was the direct result of running away from his role as Avatar.
      • Mako, a firebender is a cool-headed, responsible person who looks out for his little brother Bolin - himself an earthbender who comes off as naive, impulsive, and absolutely not down-to-earth.
      • After cheerful Aang and stiff, aloof Tenzin, season 3 gives us Zaheer, an incredibly powerful and extremely disciplined airbender, who remains cold and emotionless whatever the situation, through ascetism and a philosophy that emphasizes detachment. He values absolute freedom of the individual, and has no qualms about murder.
  • Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny: The Four Constellations were each deliberately given a power that would help them develop a neglected side of their personality.
    • Nu Jai, the careful, sometimes overthinking leader, is given a powerful Hand Blast.
    • Bao, a bombastic, charge-in-head-first kind of guy, becomes a Barrier Warrior.
    • Jing, who is morbid and perpetually angry, gets Healing Hands.
    • Fan Tong, the passive, sensitive one, has his powers manifest as a Big Freaking Sword.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: Celestia, who controls the sun, has a calm, sensible personality. Luna, who controls the moon, has a bombastic, intimidating personality.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power:
    • Mermista, a Princess with powers over water and the ocean, has a very dry personality.
    • Played with in Frosta's case. She initially appears cold and uncompromising, but that turns out to just be because she had to take the throne at a young age. When she has a chance to open up more, she turns out to be giddy and excitable, obsessed with doing cool stuff with her powers.
  • Invisi-Bill from WordGirl has exactly the power you might suspect from his name, but he's a loud Genki Guy with a constant need for attention.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: