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Premature Empowerment

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Some group of mysterious superpowered types gain their powers through a Super-Empowering process that is permanent and irreversible. They want to induct a new member into their ranks-so they put him through that process with little or no explanation and then ask him to join them. What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (Hint: Phlebotinum Rebel.)


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Often happens in Magical Girl shows, such as Sailor Moon (though technically, Usagi/Serena was born with the powers and only required them to be activated). All of the senshi were born with their powers and awakened in a similar manner, though the series didn't seem to decide right away whether the reincarnated girls were "normal" girls who just happened to inherit some powers from their past selves, or were planetary warriors all along, reborn with their full power set (it eventually settled on the latter).
  • The ultimate example of how this trope can go wrong for those empowered this way is Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Kyubey frequently makes contracts with girls without informing them of everything that being a Magical Girl entails — namely, being turned into Liches, getting broken by the use of their powers, becoming the very monsters they fight, and getting their souls eaten in the end so that Kyubey and his Incubators can try to avert the heat death of the universe.
  • From Tokyo Mew Mew, all five girls had this (they were given their powers without being asked) and Ichigo's quest was to find the others after Ryou had injected them. Zakuro and Lettuce had the worst reactions to it: Zakuro just didn't want to join them, feeling that Ryou should've asked her first, while Lettuce's powers went out of control until she was told what was happening to her.
  • In K, Kings aren't given a choice in the matter and most of then haven't really heard of Kings and Clans before Awakening as Kings. Their reactions vary, from Shiro's outright rejection of his responsibilities and retreat from the world, to Munakata's Awakening in the middle of a plane hijacking, saving everyone with his new powers, and going straight from the plane's landing to Scepter 4 headquarters to start his work.

    Comic Books 
  • Happens to Wee Hughie in The Boys, when Butcher injects him full of Compound V, and he understandably gets a bit angry about it. He later decides to join the team, though.

    Film — Animation 
  • Played with in Megamind. After the titular villain realises that Victory Is Boring, he decides to create a new superhero for himself to fight, so he secretly empowers Hal Stewart and tries to train him into heroism while disguised as his "space dad". Hal, however, decides that Being Good Sucks, and Megamind's plan goes south very quickly.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In The Matrix, Morpheus feeds Neo a line about how nobody can explain the Matrix — but doesn't exactly try very hard before giving Neo the choice of which pill to take. (Later, Cipher complains about Morpheus having done this when recruiting him, citing it as one of the reasons for his Face–Heel Turn.)
    • Justified, as trying to do this when you're in the Matrix itself is one of those things that the Machines' search programs tend to pick up on (which generally means the Agents will be after you — and before Neo became the One, you did NOT want to mess with the Agents). Besides, any explanation of the reality (or lack thereof) of the Matrix is a lot more believable once the person in question is actually out of the Matrix.
      • Not to mention that it seems like most of the blue-pills had already picked up on something wrong with the Matrix.
    • Parodied by xkcd here.

  • Common practice in Urban Fantasy stories, most notably those dealing with werewolves, Vampires, or other infectious paranormal. The Mercy Thompson and Kitty Norville books feature a number of characters to whom this happened, for example.
  • Done out of necessity with David in Animorphs, contributing to his Face–Heel Turn.
  • The series of short stories by Gordon R. Dickson compiled as The Magnificent Wilf show a rare example of this going both extraordinarily wrong and right. Early on, one of Earth's first offworld representatives is involuntarily (in that nobody knows what's happening until after it's over; galactic speed-teaching tech mean the whole thing takes under a minute) apprenticed as a member of the Assassin's Guild. Theoretically this is a ridiculous level of empowerment: one Assassin should be easily able to handle a small interstellar empire's entire military force. The numerous catches: Earth doesn't even heard of the protocols the Guild operates under much less signed off on them, making this apprenticeship illegal - thus the new Assassin can't fulfill contracts, the new Assassin is now trapped by the Guild's reputation for honor and etiquette (for example, required to accept a duel challenge from any worthy opponent... even when to avoid offending said opponent's culture the winner must, without utensils or cooking, completely and rapidly devour every part of the loser's body - said opponent is a massive saurian whose species can actually do this), and worst of all, while the new apprentice does now possess all the knowledge of combat, weapons usage, design and engineering, tactics, and politics required to do the job it would take decades of nonstop training and work for a human to reach even a basic level of competence as an Assassin... and the reputation of the Guild won't permit any implication this is actually the case.
    • The catch to the catch: the Guild was also aware of the way galactic civilization would misinterpret elements of Earth's culture and the situation. Their recruitment looked just accidental and unfortunate enough to give him just enough leeway to survive long enough to put him (and as importantly, his wife) in a position to be critical against a Greater-Scope Villain without this being noticed and countered.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Often happens in Kamen Rider shows, such as Kamen Rider 555 (where the protagonist has the Transformation Trinket applied to him before he even knows what's going on), and Super Sentai as well. It was once extremely common for Riders to be created by bad guys implanting kidnapped victims with technology, intending to make them their brainwashed warriors. You'd think they'd brainwash first and empower second, but they never do, and spend the rest of the season paying for it.
  • In Sanctuary, Nikola Tesla became a vampire with electrical powers after injecting himself with vampire blood (all true vampires having been killed off long ago). His goal throughout the series is to re-create the vampire race in his own image. His first attempt fails miserably, as the vampires are mindless savages with no free will. He then moves to Mexico and opens a rehab clinic for rich American kids, while covertly performing genetic experiments on them. Each of them is implanted with vampire DNA that is slowly changing their internal makeup and will not actually activate until decades later. Then one gets into a car accident and dies, triggering a premature transformation. He then proceeds to find and shoot everyone who visited the clinic, doing the same to them. Unlike Tesla, they have no electrical powers. They then try to take over the world... Tesla does not approve.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This often happened in Vampire: The Masquerade, with people being Embraced (turned into a vampire) without being asked first, then being taught how to act in their new lives.
    • It was a standard procedure of the Sabbat, which performed mass Embraces, with the victims being buried and those who dug themselves out being brought into the group.
    • The adventure "Blood Nativity" was about a group of people being Embraced simultaneously and being forced to fend for themselves without any training. Those who survived could join vampire society.

  • In the webcomic Panthera, the newest member of the group is asked to join the "Adventuring Club" and then knocked out and injected with gene-altering treatments to turn her into a were-jaguar with elemental powers. And only then is she told what she's really let herself in for. This was largely the work of the group's mentor and Mission Control, who -perhaps not surprisingly- turned out to have his own agenda. He also neglected to mention that his Super Serum will drastically shorten a user's lifespan.